The Florida Bar Board of Governors has issued an opinion that attorneys contacting prospective clients by text must follow the same rules that apply to other written communications in this context. While most states have not yet addressed this question of attorney advertising by text message, lawyers who do wish to use this marketing method should exercise caution when doing so, as other states may follow Florida’s lead. The information in this blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice.
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.