M. Trent Trani & Associates, P.C., a criminal defense firm recently spoke to the increased client numbers and business their law firm had recently enjoyed after they had started advertising their services through radio. In this fast-moving and heavily digital-reliant age, it makes one wonder just how effective a medium like radio still is.

Apart from the fact that radio has been around for a long time (more than 100 years in fact), you can’t deny the effectiveness of radio. A popular radio station can draw in as many as two million listeners and local radio stations even manage to draw in thousands of listeners making up a significant amount of the population, If you’re looking for tangible proof, the recent success of M. Trent Trani in a market as competitive as Denver is testament enough to the effectiveness of radio in the marketing and advertising of legal services. 

However, a somewhat holistic reason for this success is the inherent need of society for lawyers and legal professionals. Any organized society will have legal procedures in place, for example when you’re buying a new house or are signing an agreement for a large scale business transaction. Any organized society will also have laws in place with the select few choosing to break those laws. This is why there will always be a need for a lawyer with someone somewhere looking for one because of one reason or another.

Recognizing this need, state bar associations have taken measures which ensure that these marketing practices are fair, promote competition in the market, and do not cross the bounds of decency and professionalism, all while taking practical considerations into account. The United States itself has had an interesting history when it comes to the advertisement of legal services. Initially, such practices were prohibited and, as you will see below, it took a significant time until the practice was seen not only as necessary but also practical.

Before we get into specifics, if you live in the Denver area and are looking for quality legal services, check out M. Trent Trani & Associates, P.C. at They specialize in criminal defense and focus on white-collar crimes, DUI, violent crimes, and drug offenses.


While most developed and some developing countries allow the advertisement of legal services, the allowance under the framework of the United States is incredibly far-ranging. Provided certain ethical restrictions, discussed in detail below, are followed, lawyers and law firms can advertise their services freely. 

Furthermore, a number of advertising mediums can be used including radio (as in the case of M. Trent Trani), print, television, mail marketing, online websites, social media, directories, and even billboards! 


However, attorneys and firms did not always enjoy such freedom. Advertising of legal services was initially prohibited as given under the Canons of Professional Ethics, the first formal framework of rules of professional conduct published in 1908. This was the American Bar Association’s first attempt at regulating the professional conduct of the profession and prohibiting any unethical and unfair practices, to protect the consumer and maintain the integrity of the profession. 

With the passage of time, and with social, political and economic developments in the United States with the Great Depression and World War 2, the country started to take a more competitive outlook on business and the social consensus called for a prohibition of anti-competitive practices. This was also reflected in the revision of the rules by the American Bar Association in 1969 through the Model Code of Professional Responsibility.

The updated Moral Code allowed the advertisement of legal services by lawyers and law firms and put generalized restrictions in place for state bar associations to build on and create restrictions in line with their local practices and market factors.  


The Supreme Court was not too late in following the spirit of the American Bar Association and in 1977 gave legal recognition to the advertising of legal services by lawyers and law firms. The case, Bates v. Arizona State Bar, was a milestone not only for the market practices of lawyers but also for the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States. The Supreme Court saw the practice as protected by the First Amendment and, as such, could not allow an outright ban or restriction. 

The First Amendment notwithstanding, the Supreme Court also saw the practice as beneficial to consumers as it made public access to legal services more convenient. This has always been an important consideration for the country due to its consonance with the right to a fair trial, an equally important right as that espoused under the First Amendment. 


The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) is the main regulatory body in the United States whose objective is to ensure that market competition is promoted and no anti-competitive business practices are put in place. As such, it also understands the importance of marketing and advertising of goods and services in creating fair competition. 

For these reasons, the FTC was invited by the Supreme Court of Alabama in 2002 to comment on the “Information about Legal Services”, which was the official formal document prescribing the rules of professional conduct for lawyers, including the advertisement of services. The FTC believed that advertising by lawyers and law firms would promote competition and eliminate anti-competitive practices in the market and endorsed the framework.

Over the years, the FTC has continued to give a response whenever it has been asked for input on state bar association frameworks regulating professional conduct. It had done the same when lawyers started to transition to online and digital means for advertising their services.


The practice, even with its recognized consonance with fundamental rights as given under the Constitution, is not without its restrictions. First and foremost, any form of soliciting of clients I prohibited by all bar associations across the country. Furthermore, most states require that all advertisements be restricted to only discuss the law firm, or lawyer, and the areas of practice they specialize and deal in

Further restrictions can vary when it comes to the State the lawyer is based in. Provided that all the applicable prescribed restrictions are adhered to, lawyers are free to advertise their services.

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.