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Introduced Version Senate Bill 690 History

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sb690 intr
Senate Bill No. 690

(By Senators Chafin and Yoder)

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[Introduced March 21, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §30-2A-1, §30-2A-2, §30-2A-3, §30-2A-4 and §30-2A-5, all relating to regulating advertising by attorneys.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §30-2A-1, §30-2A-2, §30-2A-3, §30-2A-4 and §30-2A-5, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2A. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.
§30-2A-1. Definitions.
As used in this article, the following words and terms have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.
(1) "Board" means the West Virginia Lawyer Disciplinary Board;
(2) "Advertising" means any communication, whether oral or written, between a lawyer or other entity acting on behalf of one or more attorneys and the public. It includes, but is not limited to: Business cards, signs, insignias, letterheads, web pages, Internet communications, radio, television, newspaper and magazine ads, and display or group ads or listings in telephone directories, or both.
§30-2A-2. Attorneys at law may advertise.
(a) Any advertising engaged in by a duly registered and currently licensed lawyer in West Virginia shall be in compliance with the provisions set forth herein and as set forth in article two of this chapter.
(b) A duly registered and currently licensed lawyer may not use or participate in the use of any advertising containing a false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or unfair statement or claim.
(c) Any advertisement must contain the name of or names of all of the duly registered and currently licensed attorneys providing legal advice and services and who are regularly employed in or responsible for the management, supervision and operation of each office location listed in the advertisement.
(d) A duly registered and currently licensed lawyer may:
(1) Use the titles or degrees, including, if the lawyer holds a degree or degrees from an accredited school;
(2) Use the words specialist, specializing in, limited to the specialty of, or practice limited to if the lawyer has specialized training or education which is recognized by the Board as a specialty area of practice.
§30-2A-3. Announcement of Services.

(1) Any announcement of services by a lawyer in general practice shall state in a prominent manner that the legal practice is the general practice of law.
(2) The announcement of services of the general practice of law shall be clearly legible, with print equal to or larger than the announcement of services, and clearly audible, with speech volume and pace equal to the announcement of services.
(3) If terms implying services associated with specialty practices are used, a disclaimer must be used. The disclaimer shall be clearly legible, with print equal to or larger than the announcement of services, and clearly audible, with speech volume and pace equal to the announcement of services. The disclaimer shall state: "(list nonspecialty interest areas) (is or are) nonspecialty interest areas that require no specific educational training to advertise this service."
(4) Any announcement or advertisement of services implying nonspecialty interest areas, which are not recognized by the Board, must include a disclaimer. These or other terms, which imply a nonspecialty interest area, must be accompanied by a disclaimer that is clearly legible, with print equal to or larger than the announcement of services, and clearly audible, with speech volume and pace equal to the announcement of services. The disclaimer shall state: "(list nonspecialty interest areas) (is or are) nonspecialty interest areas that require no specific educational training to advertise this service."
(5) Any duly registered and currently licensed lawyer who directly or indirectly advertises the availability and price of services shall do so in a clear and nondeceptive manner and include all material information necessary to fully inform members of the general public about the nature of the goods, appliances or services offered at the announced price. Any listed prices shall be extended for a reasonable period of time. Any advertised price for a routine service shall be a fixed price, with no range of fees, and no client may be charged a fee in excess of that advertised price for that particular service.
(6) Any client who receives any free services in response to an advertisement, from any duly registered and licensed lawyer in West Virginia shall have the right to refuse to pay, cancel payment or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination or treatment which is performed as a result of and within seventy-two hours of receiving the free service unless the other service, examination or treatment is requested by the patient at the time she or he seeks the free offer. The lawyer shall inform clients in writing of their rights under this section prior to the patient receiving the free service.
(7) Any advertising engaged in by a duly registered or licensed lawyer in West Virginia containing an offer of a discount or a credit toward a fee, whether expressed in terms of a particular dollar amount or a particular percentage shall contain a statement of the highest fee normally charged by the advertising lawyer for the services which the discount or credit applies and a statement of exactly what services are included in the offer. If the offer of a discount or credit applies to the full range of legal services offered by the lawyer, then a fee schedule stating all fees for the services shall be made available to any person requesting it and its availability shall be noted in the advertisement.
§30-2A-4. Articles, messages or newsletters.

Any legal article, message or newsletter published under an attorney at Law's byline to the public without making truthful disclosure of the source and authorship, or designed to give rise to questionable expectations for the purpose of inducing the public to utilize the services of the sponsoring lawyer, or designed to imply specialization or unusual expertise in a recognized specialty area unless the lawyer is currently licensed in the particular specialty area discussed in the article is a false, misleading or deceptive representation to the public.
§30-2A-5. Compliance.
Any registered and currently licensed lawyer in West Virginia failing to comply with the provisions of this article is subject to disciplinary action as provided in the Rules of Lawyer Disciplinary Procedure.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to regulate the advertising of the practice of law.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.

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