Attorney’s Guide to Ethical Marketing: Connecticut
This post is part of the Attorney’s Guide to Ethical Marketing, a series of posts (and eventually an eBook) that provides attorneys with a summary of key ethical rules for marketing across all fifty states, and the US territories. If you want to be notified when your jurisdiction is covered, subscribe to The Dead Drop, my monthly newsletter covering updates from this site and beyond on marketing, law, and the psychology of persuasion.
- Relevant Citations: Connecticut Rules of Professional Conduct 7.1-7.5 (“CT RPC”); Connecticut Superior Court Rules 2-28A, also known as the Connecticut Practice Book § 2-28A (“Ct. Prac. Bk.”) (the CT RPC are contained within the Ct. Prac. Bk., both of which can be found at State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Connecticut Practice Book (last visited Dec. 12, 2018) (direct link to PDF); Connecticut General Statutes (“CGS”) § 51-86; CGS § 51-87; CGS § 51-87A; CGS §53-340A.
- Limitations on Direct Contact with Prospective Clients (Y/N): Yes, in part.
- Permitted Forms of Marketing
- Traditional Media (Y/N): Yes
- Inbound Marketing (Y/N): Yes
- Social Media Marketing (Y/N): Yes
- Email Marketing (Y/N): Yes
- PPC Advertising (Y/N): Yes
- Mandatory Language (Y/N): Yes
- Opt-Out Requirement (Y/N): Yes
- Retention and Record-Keeping Requirement (Y/N): Yes
- Non-Surname Branding (Y/N): Yes
- Date of Last Revision: 2014
Before delving into the substantive restrictions on attorney advertising in Connecticut, it is worth addressing the structure of Connecticut’s laws concerning attorney advertising. Connecticut incorporates civil and criminal limitations on advertising for legal practices in both its statutes and Court Rules, with discrepancies between the two for disciplinary matters. See Office of Legal Research, Connecticut General Assembly Report 2006-R-0577, Attorney Discipline (Oct. 20, 2006) (viewed at https://www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0577.htm). In what is never a good sign for clear and unambiguous regulations, the state’s legislative office in charge of legal research reported that the reason the Court Rules were controlling when discrepancies existed between them and the statutes was not because of a governing decision or statute addressing controversies of law, but rather because “in practice, the rules are followed.“ Ibid. (It might just be time for the Connecticut legislature to eliminate those laws superseded by the Rules of Professional Conduct.) Per the guidance of the Office of Legal Research, it will be the “practice” to focus on the Rules of Professional Conduct, as incorporated into the Connecticut Practice Book by the Connecticut Judiciary.
Connecticut prevents attorneys from directly soliciting clients, for the most, when those clients are private citizens and not also friends, family, or former clients. See CT RPC 7.3(a). However, Connecticut permits direct solicitation of a wide range of institutional clients, including non-profits, trade organizations, and for-profit businesses. See id. This makes sense, as public policy’s desire to protect private individuals from manipulative legal solicitations is no longer served when addressing solicitations directed at organizations that often have sophisticated officers, to include their own attorneys.
Consistent with the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, Connecticut permits attorneys to advertise across all traditional and electronic mediums, and the commentary to the Rules of Professional Conduct even describes more advanced forms of digital advertising, such as PPC and in-app advertisements. See CT RPC 7.2(a) and commentary. Due to Connecticut’s record retention and filing requirements (which will be discussed below), however, attorneys must ensure that some form of record remains for all advertisements that they can submit for filing (sorry, early adopters, that means no disappearing content marketing on Snapchat).
In Connecticut, advertisements must include the name and address of at least one lawyer admitted in Connecticut responsible for the content of the advertisement, along with language addressing contingency fee details. All advertising should be marked as “‘Advertising Material’ in red ink on the first page of any written communication and the lower left corner of the outside envelope or container, if any, and at the beginning and ending [sic] of any communication by audio or video recording or other electronic means.” CT RPC 7.3(c).
Connecticut requires that attorneys retain records of their advertisements, along with a record of when and where used for three years. See CT RPC 7.2(b)(1). Additionally, attorneys must comply with the mandatory filing requirements imposed by Section 2-28A of the Connecticut Superior Court Rules, which requires attorneys to submit their advertisements to the Connecticut Attorney Grievance Committee prior to or at the same time as an advertisement is first used. Connecticut includes a procedure where the State Bar Counsel randomly selects advertisements for an audit or review procedure.