Marketing for law firms is a concept that has only been in existence for 35 years, and it’s struggling to keep up with the fast-moving changes in technology. Because of this, many lawyers and their respective bars are also struggling to determine how the rules connect with the combined function of the Internet and marketing.
Yes—lawyers are subject to some of the most stringent marketing and advertising rules compared to any other profession.
Your whole team, from the administrative assistants to the managing partners, needs to be familiar with the guidelines and the ethical considerations that come with it. It is important to know what can and cannot be said.
Fortunately, the ethical rules for law firm advertising stem from these few major principles:
The guidelines say that your trade names, slogans, and even the URL of your site should not contain “marketing speak”. This means you cannot call yourself “the best criminal defense lawyer in New York” or add a dot-com to something like ‘thebestcriminaldefenselawyer’ as your URL—unless, of course, you provide the facts to back the claim.
Go talk to a legal Internet marketing consultant or read a reputable law firm marketing blog to help you come up with a proper marketing campaign for your legal services.
You need to clearly label your law firm’s online marketing efforts, especially your site and your marketing emails, as an advertisement. You can simply put, “This is an advertisement”, but email communications may be a little more complicated.
In states that use the ABA Model Rule 7.3, law firms are required to put a label of “Advertising Material” at the beginning and end of their emails. Check with your state first.
Your online marketing materials need a disclaimer. If you allow people to contact you by putting up a contact form, you need to clarify that this does not create an attorney-client relationship right away.
Also, if you talk about the outcomes of your legal service, let the reader know that the results are not guaranteed and that they vary depending on the case.
It’s important that your law firm understands that there are rules. The responsibility rests on your shoulders in identifying those rules and in making sure that your online marketing efforts are compliant.