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.
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  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.