Sports Law

Model Rule 7.1 – Communications Concerning A Lawyer’s Services

Joshua Knipp, a 2L at Wake Forest University, asked me an interesting question via email:

I am involved in a Law Practice Management class at Wake and we are setting up our law firm practice. My group naturally is a sports law firm and our slogan states, “Elite Athletes, Elite Representation, Elite Results”. Our professor has pointed out that this could be a grey area under 7.1 of the Model Code of Professional Responsibility. It is clear that you can not use “best” but we have found nothing that would limit the use of “elite”.

I just thought that with your organization of resources that you may be able to point me in the right direction on furthering my knowledge of this topic. Thanks, and I look forward to your response.

Best Regards,

Josh Knipp

For some reason, I really enjoyed studying Professional Responsibility last semester, which is a subject that most law students find to be very dry. I did my best to offer a brief response last night before American Idol came on (yes, I am a victim of pop culture). Here it is:


I am looking over Rule 7.1 right now. We actually skipped the 7 Rules in Professional Responsibility class. All it says is that your information cannot be false OR misleading. Are you misrepresenting a fact or law OR omitting a fact necessary to make your statement not misleading? I personally would say no. Oftentimes, looking at the Comments will provide you more insight, however.

Your statement may run afoul of the Rule according to Comment [2] in the area that reads, A truthful statement is also misleading if there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation. 2 questions: 1) is there a substantial likelihood 2) that a reasonable person would formulate a falsity from your statement? Also, if you are actually offering Elite Services to Elite Athletes, then there is nothing to worry about.

You can also always protect your ass with a disclaimer. 🙂

What do you think of the response? Am I way off base? I would imagine that it would be a different scenario had the agency claimed Elite Athletes and Elite Services if it had absolutely no clients under its belt. Remember, these Model Rules only apply if the agent is a lawyer or the Managers of the agency are attorneys.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

One reply on “Model Rule 7.1 – Communications Concerning A Lawyer’s Services”

“Elite results” might get you in trouble because it infers a likelihood of success that attorneys generally cannot convey. In the real world, though, no one would ever be sanctioned for something this grey.

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