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Chapter 14 out of 14 chapters in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook



Application of Chapter

1. This Chapter applies to any marketing activity undertaken or authorized by a lawyer in which he or she is identified as a lawyer, mediator or arbitrator.

[amended effective 05/1998]


2. In this Chapter:

"lawyer" includes a member of the Law Society, and a person enrolled in the Law Society Admission Program; and

"marketing activity" includes any publication or communication in the nature of an advertisement, promotional activity or material, letterhead, business card, listing in a directory, public appearance or any other means by which professional legal services are promoted or clients are solicited.

[amended effective 01/2000; amended 10/2004; 05/2009]

3. [rescinded 05/2009]

Content and format of marketing activities

4. Any marketing activity undertaken or authorized by a lawyer must not be:

(a) false,

(b) inaccurate,

(c) unverifiable,

(d) reasonably capable of misleading the recipient or intended recipient, or

(e) contrary to the best interests of the public.

[amended 05/2009]


4.1 and 4.2  [rescinded 05/2009]


5. For example, a marketing activity violates Rule 4 if it:

(a) is calculated or likely to take advantage of the vulnerability, either physical or emotional, of the recipient,

(b) is likely to create in the mind of the recipient or intended recipient an unjustified expectation about the results which the lawyer can achieve, or

(c) otherwise brings the administration of justice into disrepute.

[amended effective 01/2000; amended 11/2002; 05/2009]

6.  [moved to Chapter 4, Rule 8 and Chapter 8, Rule 23  05/2009]

6.1  [moved to Chapter 8, Rule 24  05/2009]


7 and 7.1  [moved to Law Society Rule 2-54  05/2009]

Former firm of current judge or master

7.2 A lawyer must not state on any letterhead or business card or in any other marketing activity the name of a judge or master as being a predecessor or former member of the lawyer's firm.

[added effective 05/1998]

Notary Public

8. A lawyer who, on any letterhead, business card or sign, or in any other marketing activity:

(a) uses the term "Notary," "Notary Public" or any similar designation, or

(b) in any other way represents to the public that the lawyer is a notary public,

must also indicate in the same publication or marketing activity the lawyer's status as a lawyer.

[amended 10/2004]

9.  [rescinded 05/2009]


10. A lawyer must not list a person not entitled to practise law in British Columbia on any letterhead or in any other marketing activity without making it clear in the marketing activity that the person is not entitled to practise law in British Columbia.

In particular, a person who fits one or more of the following descriptions must not be listed without an appropriate indication of the person's status:

(a) a retired member,

(a.1) a non-practising member,

(b) a deceased member,

(c) an articled student,

(d) a legal assistant or paralegal,

(e) a patent agent, if registered as such under the Patent Act,

(f) a trademark agent, if registered as such under the Trade-marks Act,

(g) a practitioner of foreign law, if that person holds a valid permit issued under Law Society Rule 2-18, or

(h) a qualified member of another profession, trade or occupation, provided that the lawyer and the other person are members of a multi-disciplinary practice (MDP)1 permitted under the Rules.

[amended 03/1994; updated 12/1999; amended 06/2001; 05/2009;
amended 12/2009, effective 07/2010]


11 to 13.1, 14 and 15.  [rescinded 05/2009]

Preferred areas of practice

16. A lawyer may state in any marketing activity a preference for practice in any one or more fields of law if the lawyer regularly practises in each field of law in respect of which the lawyer wishes to state a preference.

  [amended effective 01/2000; amended 05/2009]


[rescinded 05/2009]


18. Unless otherwise authorized by the Legal Profession Act, the Rules, or this Handbook or by the Benchers, a lawyer must:

(a) not use the title "specialist" or any similar designation suggesting a recognized special status or accreditation in any marketing activity, and

(b) take all reasonable steps to discourage use, in relation to the lawyer by another person, of the title "specialist" or any similar designation suggesting a recognized special status or accreditation in any marketing activity.

[amended effective 01/2000; amended 05/2009]


[moved to Law Society Rule 3-20  05/2009]

20 and 21.  [rescinded 05/2009]

Real estate sales

22. When engaged in marketing of real property for sale or lease, a lawyer must include in any marketing activity:

(a) the name of the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm, and

(b) if a telephone number is used, only the telephone number of the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm.

[added 10/2004]

Multi-disciplinary practice

23. Unless permitted to practise law in an MDP under the Law Society Rules, a lawyer must not, in any marketing activity

(a) use the term multi-disciplinary practice or MDP, or

(b) state or imply that the lawyer’s practice or law firm is an MDP.

[added 12/2009, effective 07/2010]

24. A lawyer practising law in an MDP must ensure that all marketing activity for the firm indicates that the firm is an MDP.

[added 12/2009, effective 07/2010]


Footnote 1 is added effective July 1, 2010:

1. See the definition of “MDP” in Rule 1 and Rules 2-23.1 to 2-23.12 of the Law Society Rules. The definition of “member of an MDP” in Rule 2-23.1 applies in the context of this chapter.

[added 12/2009, effective 07/2010]

*    *    *


Rule 4 - Content and format of marketing activities

A lawyer who sent local realtors advertising flyers featuring evening-gowned young women, offering a free bottle of champagne for every conveyancing referral made to the member's law office by a realtor, and offering the possibility to win prizes including two beautiful hostesses to assist at one open house was found guilty of professional misconduct for steering and for violating the marketing rules.
DCD 94-01

There is no serious chance of clients being seriously misled about the number of lawyers in a firm by the rule which allows sole practitioners to refer to a firm as A and Company.
EC February 1995, item 7

It is not improper for a lawyer to advertise by delivering handbills containing marketing information provided the contents of the handbills are in accordance with the Rules.
EC September 1995, item 9

It is improper for a lawyer to operate a firm named after a particular area of law and bearing no other distinguishing features.
EC, October 1998, item 7

In showing qualification to practise in other jurisdictions, it is misleading to say simply that a lawyer is qualified to practise in the United States when such a qualification will be specific to a particular state or states. It is proper for a firm to indicate that a lawyer is qualified to practise in one or more jurisdictions in the United States.
EC April 2000, item 10

Verifiable means that a particular claim or statement made by a lawyer in marketing activity is capable of verification by an independent observer through the objective examination of evidence. It is not necessary that the evidence be available in the marketing activity itself.
EC February 2004, item 4

All elements of a testimonial must meet the requirements of the Rules they must be both true and verifiable. This includes any statements of fact made by former clients giving a testimonial. It is not enough that the former client believes a statement to be true; the statement must be verifiably true as well. Statements by a former client that the lawyer gave great advice or that the lawyer is professional or knowledgeable cannot be verified and therefore are contrary to the Rules.
EC March 2006, item 3

It is misleading for a lawyer to advertise that a law firm is Canada's National Franchise Law Group and to state that the firms making up the group are individually recognized as leaders in franchise law. It may, however, advertise itself as a national franchise law group and to state that the firms making up the group are individually recognized in franchise law.
EC May 2000, item 9

Lawyers cannot use a firm name that is sufficiently similar to another name in use by an existing firm if it may cause confusion to the public. A lawyer cannot use the firm name B Lawyers to practise in Vancouver where another firm B and Company already exists in North Vancouver. It may be reasonably confusing to the public. And, the use of the term lawyers implied there was more than one lawyer at the firm. Since B was a sole practitioner, the use of the name was misleading and improper.
EC April 2006, item 3

A law firm name such as BC Forestry Law or BC Forestry Law Services is improper. The use of the term BC in a law firms practice is misleading because it conveys a false sense of official approval of the lawyer's practice.
EC June 2006, item 2

The following names are improper, since they suggest that more than a single lawyer comprises the firm:

  • Smith & Company, Barristers & Solicitors
  • Smith, Jones and Black, Barristers & Solicitors
  • Smith and Partners
  • Smith and Associates

The following names are not improper when the firm is comprised only of one lawyer

  • Smith and Company, with Bill Smith shown with the words “Barrister & Solicitor”
  • Smith, Jones and Black, with Bill Smith shown with the words “Barrister & Solicitor”
  • Smith Law Group

EC April 2007, item 6

A lawyer may use a testimonial provided all factual elements in the testimonial meet the standards set out in Rule 4 and all statements of opinion are honestly stated.
Benchers' Bulletin, No. 4 Winter 2009

Rule 10 - Designation

A non-practising lawyer may not designate himself as a retired member on firm letterhead unless he meets the criteria for that designation set out in Law Society Rule 403 [now Rule 2-4].
EC March 1998, item 9

It is not contrary to the Rule for a lawyer to describe a non-lawyer by a designation generally understood to be the equivalent of a designation set out in the Rule, such as paralegal in place of legal assistant, or student-at-law in place of articled student.
EC Oct 5 2000, item 13

Non-practising lawyers have an obligation to disclose their status on letterhead or other marketing activity. They must disclose their status and its implications when they are representing a client where failure to do so would mislead someone. This includes an obligation to advise prospective clients if the lawyer is not covered by professional liability insurance for the matter.
EC December 2003, item 5

Rule 16 - Preferred areas of practice

It is proper to incorporate an area of practice into the firm name provided the firm is entitled to list an area as a preferred area of practice (see Law Society Rule 9-1).
EC February 1999, item 7

Before a lawyer would be permitted to use the services of a commercial lawyer referral service, it would be necessary for the lawyer to be able to comply with the Rule relating to preferred areas of practice with respect to any areas of practice in which the lawyer offers services.
EC March 2000, item 7

Rule 18 - Specialization

Where a lawyer is entitled to state preferred areas of practice, it is reasonable to refer to them as areas of “expertise.” Provided the lawyer does not use other language, which suggests a special status or accreditation, the use of the term “expertise” alone is acceptable.
EC January 2007, item 9

A lawyer obtained a certificate from a university program called the “Professional Specialization Certificate in International Intellectual Property Law.” The Committee determined that the words “professional” and “specialization” in the certificate did not justify their use in marketing materials. Their use in this context may mislead the public into thinking the certificate confers a special status in BC in the practice of international intellectual property law. Reference to the certificate without using those two words would be acceptable.
EC April 2007, item 4

Use of any of the terms "expert," "expertise" or "specializing" by a lawyer in marketing materials is not inherently objectionable unless the use of such terms is false or misleading or takes place in a context that suggests the lawyer is claiming a special status or accreditation.
Benchers' Bulletin, No. 4 Winter 2009



[Table of Contents] [previous chapter] [Appendix 1]
Chapter 14 out of 14 chapters in the annotated Professional Conduct Handbook