Florida Lawyer's Guide to Tombstone Ads

Uncategorized Aug 16, 2022

Legal advertising is subject to strict rules by The Florida Bar. However, some types of promotion fall in the exception category, and one of those is tombstone ads. 

What is a Tombstone Ad?

A tombstone ad is typically a print ad but could also be found online or in other mediums. It contains only bare-bones information about the subject. They are often used in the financial industry to announce a public offering and list the parties involved. 

Tombstone ads cannot have photographs, artwork, opinions, or sales-type content. They must contain a lot of white space and list only a few pieces of information. The SEC claims that tombstone ads are "not an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy" but simply a notification of a transaction. The style closely resembles that of a tombstone, hence the name. 

The Florida Bar and Tombstone Ads

Tombstone ads do not need to be reviewed by The Florida Bar as long as they contain no information except for the following:

  • The name of the lawyer or law firm. A listing of all firm lawyers, office locations, parking arrangements, disability accommodations, phone numbers, website addresses, email addresses, office hours, and the words "lawyer" or "law firm."
  • The date of admission to The Florida Bar. Current memberships or positions held within The Florida Bar or other state bars. Former legal positions with dates of employment, number of lawyers in the law firm, and a list of federal courts or jurisdictions other than Florida where they are licensed to practice. 
  • Technical or professional licenses granted by Florida or other licensing authorities, educational degrees (dates and institutions), and military service (branch and dates of service). 
  • Foreign languages spoken.
  • Areas of law practiced, including official certification logos subject to Rule 4-7.14(a)(4).
  • Participation in a prepaid group or legal service plans.
  • Credit cards accepted.
  • Fee for an initial consultation or fees schedules subject to Rule 4-7.14(a)(5).
  • Common salutary language like "best wishes," "good luck," "happy holidays," "pleased to announce," or "proudly serving your community."
  • Common punctuation marks.
  • An illustration as described by The Florida Bar "illustration of the scales of justice not deceptively similar to official certification logos or The Florida Bar logo, a gavel, traditional renditions of Lady Justice, the Statute of Liberty, the American flag, the American eagle, the State of Florida flag, an unadorned set of law books, the inside or outside of a courthouse, column(s), diploma(s), or a photograph of the lawyer or lawyers who are members of or employed by the firm against a plain background consisting of a single solid color or a plain, unadorned set of law books."

Tombstone Ads for Qualifying Providers

The Florida Bar allows qualifying providers (lawyer referral service, matching service, pooled ad program, directory, or lead generator) to post tombstone ads with the following information: 

  • Name
  •  Location
  •  Phone number
  •  Fees charges
  •  Hours of operation
  •  Process for making referrals
  •  Areas of law in which the referrals are made
  •  The geographic area where the lawyers reside

As long as the tombstone ads contain no images or other details except what is listed above, The Florida Bar does not need to review them.


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