On 2 February 2018, the All-China Lawyers Association (‘ACLA’) issued the Rules on the Business Promotion Activities of Lawyers (Trial) (律师业务推广行为规则（试行）), with immediate effect.
The rules aim to standardise the business promotion activities of lawyers and law firms.
The term "lawyer business promotion" refers to various activities by lawyers and law firms including publishing advertisements, using social media, distributing business cards and other promotional materials, and attending or sponsoring seminars.
In-house and government-employed lawyers, as well as lawyers who lack current qualifications or who have been disciplined or censured within one year, may not promote their services.
The rules specify separate requirements on individual lawyers and law firms in relation to content that must be included, and content that may be included, in their promotions. The rules also prohibit certain content, including for example:
- False, misleading or exaggerated claims.
- Claims of connections with judicial or administrative agencies.
- Claims that disparage, or compare with, other lawyers or law firms.
- Commitments to achieve specific case results.
Though lawyers and law firms may promote their fields of expertise, they may not claim to be experts in these fields based on their own judgment.
The rules also prohibit promotional activities in certain places and by certain means, such as disseminating business promotion information in public places near administrative legal agencies and engaging in non-targeted business promotions.
Lawyers and law firms that violate the rules are subject to inspection and disciplinary action by the local lawyers' association to which they belong in accordance with the Rules of the All-China Lawyers Association on Disciplinary Actions (中华全国律师协会会员违规行为处分规则).