Legal Ethics Opinion No. 1443

Advertising: Advertisement "Guaranteeing" the Client Justice With
                      the Insurance Company

You have presented a hypothetical situation in which a local law
firm, through its television advertisement, states that it can
"guarantee you get justice with the insurance company". 

You have asked the committee to opine whether, under the facts of
the inquiry, such advertising is proper under the Virginia Code
of Professional Responsibility.

The appropriate and controlling Disciplinary Rule related to your
inquiry is DR 2-101(A), which provides that a lawyer shall not,
on behalf of himself or any other lawyer affiliated with him or
his firm, use or participate in the use of any form of public
communication if such communication contains a false, fraudulent,
misleading, or deceptive statement or claim.

The committee has previously opined that a lawyer should refrain
from making statements in public communications which are merely
self-laudatory or which are not supported by factual assertions. 
See LEOs #1297, #1321, and #1425.  Such statements, if made
solely to garner further business, may mislead the layperson to
whom they 
are directed and therefore undermine the public's confidence in
the legal system. See also ECs 2-10, 2-11.  

The committee also directs your attention to EC 2-12, which
cautions that the attorney-client relationship should not be
established as the result of pressures and deceptions and further
states that "unwarranted promises of benefits, overpersuasion, or
vexatious or harassing conduct are improper." [emphasis added]

The committee opines that since the statement by the firm,
indicating that it can "guarantee you justice with the insurance
company", is not supported by factual assertions and is purely
self-laudatory, it is violative of DR 2-101(A).  The committee is
of the further opinion that the statement contained in the
advertisement does not serve to inform the public of the
availability of competent, independent legal counsel nor does the
public benefit from such advertising when it is marked by
statements without factual basis which are based on emotional

Finally, the committee directs your attention to DR 1-103(A)
which mandates reporting to the appropriate authority by an
attorney having knowledge that another attorney has committed a
violation of the Disciplinary Rules that raises a substantial
question as to that lawyer's fitness to practice law in other
respects.  Whether an attorney's conduct is such that it raises a
"substantial question as that lawyer's fitness to practice law in
other respects" requires a case-by-case determination which
should be made after consideration of the facts and analysis of
the impact on the offending lawyer fitness to practice law. 
[See:  LEO #1308 and In re Himmel, 125 Ill.2d 531, 533 N.E.2d 790

Committee Opinion
January 6, 1992