Court Updates Rules for Lawyer Advertising PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Crime/Courts
Written by Iowa Judicial Branch   
Thursday, 30 August 2012 07:46

Des Moines, August 29, 2012— Today, the Iowa Supreme Court approved amendments to the Iowa Court Rules governing lawyer advertising. The amendments bring the Iowa rules closely in line with the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct governing lawyer advertising and communications to the public. The Iowa revision is designed to update, clarify, and strengthen advertising rules in the digital age while providing the public with useful information about Iowa lawyers.

The supreme court has the sole responsibility to admit persons to practice as lawyers in the courts of Iowa, to prescribe rules to supervise lawyer conduct, and to discipline lawyers.

"With more lawyers and citizens using the internet and social media it is important to update the advertising rules to clarify how lawyers can use these new technologies," Chief Justice Mark Cady said. "The ABA model code ensures a continuation of the high ethical standards Iowa lawyers follow, brings Iowa's rules in line with the rules in neighboring states, and will ensure that Iowans in need of legal representation receive reliable information about Iowa lawyers."

Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin also follow the current ABA model rules governing lawyer advertising.

Prior to adopting the new rules, the supreme court established a 16-member committee to study the ABA model rules and make recommendations to the court regarding adoptions of these rules in Iowa. The committee, chaired by Justice David Wiggins, included law professors who specialize in ethics, lawyers who reside and practice in communities that border or are near neighboring states, lawyers who have special expertise in information technology and in media, a retired journalism professor, and the head of the court's attorney discipline office. Over the course of a year, the committee held meetings, conducted research, solicited public comment, and held public hearings before providing its recommendations to the court.

The new rules allow Iowa lawyers to participate in all forms of advertising, except direct solicitation, as long as the information they provide the public is not false or misleading. The new rules also provide guidance on how to prevent the inadvertent creation of a client-lawyer relationship to lawyers who communicate in "real time" by telephone or the internet.

An additional rule requires any lawyer or law firm using a trade name or an internet address that does not mimic the name of the firm (in advertising or to communicate to the public) to disclose the name and address of one or more of the lawyers licensed to practice in Iowa.

"This new rule will ensure that Iowans searching the internet or telephone book for a lawyer will know whether the lawyer is an Iowa lawyer or an out of state lawyer with no physical presence in the state," Justice David Wiggins, chair of the committee, said. "Iowa lawyers are ethical and very qualified to represent Iowa citizens in all areas of law. It is important that when an Iowan is making the choice to hire a lawyer he or she knows whether the lawyer they are considering is an Iowa lawyer or merely an out of state lawyer advertising in the state."


The amended rules will take effect January 1, 2013. Information about the process used to update the rules and the public's comments on the rules are on the Judicial Branch website at

The updated rules are on the Judicial Branch website at


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