The American Bar Association periodically publishes a document that describes legal marketing rules for every state, detailing how they deviate from the corresponding ABA Model Rule. This document covers everything from restrictions on client testimonials to required language related to certain fees. Some of these rules may be particularly relevant in the realm of Internet legal marketing, so we highlight a few of these for you.
Most states regulate attorneys’ use of the words “expert,” “specialist,” and other terms that could be misleading or suggest a guaranteed outcome in their clients’ cases. Although it is a relatively new area of regulation, many states agree that such restrictions apply also to the domain names for lawyers’ websites. For example, both Ohio and Kentucky prohibit lawyers from using domain names with deceptive, fraudulent, exaggerated, or false information. While in some states, some attorney advertising restrictions have been struck down as violating the First Amendment, the unsettled nature of the law in this area suggests that attorneys exercise caution when choosing a domain name that may contain certain terms. The information in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.
When using a website or blog to market your law firm, you should be careful to avoid using language or portrayals that your state bar considers “misleading.” Three areas in which attorneys should be particularly careful about misleading material include: (1) language related to fees, including what prospective clients are and are not responsible for, (2) statements that can be construed to predict success, and (3) the use of actors to portray lawyers or events leading to lawsuits.
Embedded contact forms are an efficient way for lawyers to allow their website visitors to contact them. Like other aspects of attorney advertising, contact forms may be subject to regulation. In many jurisdictions, certain disclaimers might need to accompany your website contact form in order to comply with state laws governing lawyers. We discuss three considerations with respect to disclaimers that you may want to include with your contact form. This blog post is not legal advice and is provided for informational purposes only.
One of the most important components of a strong content strategy for lawyers is to include legally substantive material throughout your website. Finding a balance between readability and legal substance can be difficult, so we describe three ways to help you find that balance. First, focus on a few basic rule statements. Second, give real-life (or hypothetical) examples illustrating the application of the law that a prospective client can relate to. Finally, explain why a reader should take action.
Lawyers who use a website and/or blog to advertise their services are usually subject to rules of professional responsibility and ethics that apply in the jurisdictions where they practice. Often, these rules require that the lawyers state in a prominent manner certain information that can help prevent prospective clients from being confused or misled about the attorney’s services. Here are six common disclaimers that attorneys might need to include on their website or blog. This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. Attorneys with questions about whether their website or blog conforms to applicable rules should consult their state bar or an attorney experienced in professional responsibility/ethics issues.
The home page of a law firm’s website is arguably one of the most important. Learn about how to write a home page that is engaging, substantive, and original. Be sure to include not only marketing language, but ways in which your firm is unique as well as substantive discussion of relevant legal issues.
Some law firms might benefit from marketing their services in a language other than English. However, this strategy is not for everyone. Be sure that you follow these four tips if you are considering marketing your legal services in another language: (1) include quality content in the foreign language, (2) be sure to optimize the metadata correctly, (3) be sure that someone at the law firm speaks the language, and (4) try out one page or a few pages before investing a significant amount of time and effort.
Different states regulate lawyer advertising in different ways. Lawyers who use a website or blog for advertising purposes should check the rules in their jurisdiction(s) to see whether their content may (or must) be approved before being published online. Regulation of law firm websites and blogs is a rapidly changing area of law, so it is important to stay abreast of the rules that apply to you and your practice.
Learn about some of the potential ethical risks associated with attorneys discussing client matters or information on their website or blog. Among these risks are violating the duty of confidentiality; violating rules requiring explicit client consent before you share case details in advertising; and violating rules regarding testimonials by, or actor depictions of, clients. The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice; you should refer to the rules of your jurisdiction to ensure your marketing is in compliance.
For lawyers and law firms wishing to expand the reach of their web marketing, we provide five simple ways to reach more prospective clients and expand your business. These ways include adding video and live chat to your website, being responsive to contacts, and offering initial consultations, where feasible. The points may seem basic, but a surprising number of attorneys fail to do at least one of them, thereby losing valuable business.