Ethics Opinions
Iowa Supreme Court Board of Professional Ethics and Conduct




Date of Opinion: 09/18/2002

Opinion Number: 02-04

Title: WEBSITE ADVERTISEMENT – “ASK THE EXPERT”

Opinion: You ask whether you and your firm may place a “canned” question and answer advertisement on the website of a local television station. The station’s website currently contains similar advertisements of realtors, fashion designers, pest control companies and others under the heading of “Ask the Expert.” The station also broadcasts short commercials encouraging viewers to visit its website. In your case the television commercials would display the names of the firm and the individual attorneys who would be answering canned questions, with a voiceover directing viewers to the “Ask the Expert” portion of the website. The attorneys named in the commercials and in “Ask the Expert” would answer questions relating only to areas of the law in which they have certified their eligibility to advertise. See DR 2-105(B).

Although question and answer advertisements are not prohibited as such, see Formal Opinion 00-6, it is the opinion of the Board that participation by you or your firm in “Ask the Expert” would be improper. The designation “expert” is not permitted by the Iowa Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers. Moreover, the website touts its advertisers in terms such as “_____-tv.com’s Expert,” “the Expert,” and “our ______ expert”; your participation therefore would involve improper referral. See DR 2-103(B) and (C).

The Board notes that the disclosures you propose to include in your advertisement were required by former versions of DR 2-101(A), DR 2-101(C), and DR 2-105(A)(3)(c), and are no longer necessary following the Iowa Supreme Court’s recent amendments to the advertising rules.




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