Chapter 4 – Marketing of Legal Services

4.1 Making Legal Services Available

Making Legal Services Available

4.1-1 A lawyer must make legal services available to the public efficiently and conveniently and, subject to rule 4.1-2, may offer legal services to a prospective client by any means. (1)


Commentary

  1. A lawyer may assist in making legal services available by participating in Legal Aid and lawyer referral services and by engaging in programs of public information, education or advice concerning legal matters.
  2. As a matter of access to justice, it is in keeping with the best traditions of the legal profession to provide services pro bono and to reduce or waive a fee when there is hardship or poverty or the client or prospective client would otherwise be deprived of adequate legal advice or representation. The Society encourages lawyers to provide public interest legal services and to support organizations that provide services to persons of limited means.
  3. A lawyer who knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that a client is entitled to Legal Aid should advise the client of the right to apply for Legal Aid, unless the circumstances indicate that the client has waived or does not need such assistance.

    Right to Decline Representation
  4. A lawyer has a general right to decline a particular representation (except when assigned as counsel by a tribunal), but it is a right to be exercised prudently, particularly if the probable result would be to make it difficult for a person to obtain legal advice or representation. Generally, a lawyer should not exercise the right merely because a person seeking legal services or that person’s cause is unpopular or notorious, or because powerful interests or allegations of misconduct or malfeasance are involved, or because of the lawyer’s private opinion about the guilt of the accused. A lawyer declining representation should assist in obtaining the services of another lawyer qualified in the particular field and able to act. When a lawyer offers assistance to a client or prospective client in finding another lawyer, the assistance should be given willingly and, except where a referral fee is permitted by section 3.6, without charge.

Restrictions

4.1-2 In offering legal services, a lawyer must not use means that:

  • are false or misleading;
  • amount to coercion, duress, or harassment;
  • take advantage of a person who is vulnerable or who has suffered a traumatic experience and has not yet recovered; or
  • otherwise bring the profession or the administration of justice into disrepute

4.2 Marketing

Marketing of Professional Services

4.2-1 A lawyer may market professional services, provided that the marketing is:

  • demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable;
  • neither misleading, confusing or deceptive, nor likely to mislead, confuse or deceive;
  • in the best interests of the public and consistent with a high standard of professionalism.

Commentary

  1. Examples of marketing that may contravene this rule include:
  • stating an amount of money that the lawyer has recovered for a client or referring to the lawyer’s degree of success in past cases, unless such statement is accompanied by a further statement that past results are not necessarily indicative of future results and that the amount recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases;
  • suggesting qualitative superiority to other lawyers;
  • raising expectations unjustifiably;
  • suggesting or implying the lawyer is aggressive;
  • disparaging or demeaning other persons, groups, organizations or institutions;
  • taking advantage of a vulnerable person or group; and
  • using testimonials or endorsements that contain emotional appeals

Advertising of Fees

4.2-2 A lawyer may advertise fees charged for their services provided that:

  • the advertising is reasonably precise as to the services offered for each fee quoted;
  • the advertising states whether other amounts, such as disbursements and taxes, will be charged in addition to the fee; and
  • the lawyer strictly adheres to the advertised fee in every applicable case

4.3 Advertising Nature of Practice

4.3-1 The marketing of legal services by a practising lawyer or law firm shall not use the words “specialist”, “specializing”, “expert”, “expertise” or synonyms thereof.


Commentary

  1. Lawyers’ advertisements may be designed to provide information to assist a potential client to choose a lawyer who has the appropriate skills and knowledge for the client’s particular legal matter.
  2. Not adopted in Nova Scotia.
  3. If a firm practises in more than one jurisdiction, some of which certify or recognize specialization, an advertisement by such a firm that makes reference to the status of a firm member as a specialist or expert, in media circulated concurrently in Nova Scotia and the certifying jurisdiction, does not offend this rule if the certifying authority or organization is identified.
  4. A lawyer may advertise areas of practice, including preferred areas of practice or a restriction to a certain area of law. An advertisement may also include a description of the lawyer’s or law firm’s proficiency or experience in an area of law. In all cases, the representations made must be accurate (that is, demonstrably true) and must not be misleading.