Legal ethics rules in a majority of states now require attorneys to become and remain familiar with technologies that affect their practices. However, the broad wording of the applicable rules and the constantly evolving world of technology may lead some in the legal profession to wonder what these rules actually mean for them. Fortunately, states across the country have begun to provide more specific guidance as to what these ethical duties entail, giving lawyers specific examples that may apply directly or analogously to the technologies they use every day.
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.
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.
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.