Did you know that 22% of clients decide against seeking legal assistance because they don’t know where to look?
Without new business, your law firm cannot succeed, which is why attorney advertising is vital. As an attorney, you know that following the rules is essential. Don’t jump into developing your marketing budget before you know the legal advertising rules in your area.
In today’s digital age, advertising online to attract new clients is necessary. We’re conducting more and more business virtually. Connecting with clients digitally through strategic advertising is now critical.
Before implementing a marketing strategy, know the responsibilities that apply to lawyers. Keep reading to learn more about attorney advertising rules and best practices.
Is Attorney Advertising Legal?
While you’re allowed to advertise as an attorney, you must follow ethical obligations and strict rules.
According to the American Bar Association (ABA) Rule 7.2 on Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services. However, there are limitations on what you can share.
Keep in mind that you can get in trouble by breaking advertising rules even if you’re not the one running your website. It’s important to be aware of the potential violations and speak with any third parties who help you advertise online.
Avoid Making False or Misleading Statements
When advertising for your firm, it’s a given that you can’t outright blatantly lie or twist facts in an unreasonable way to gain an unfair, unrealistic advantage (This is why now lawyers suing lawyers is a huge trend). And it’s not just blatant lies that are unethical. Misleading, false, or misdirecting statements about your services, possible results, and fees can also be problematic.
When advertising, avoid the use of superlatives such as “the most,” “the best,” or “the lowest,” as each can be considered deceptive. You may see yourself as the “most reliable” attorney. However, if you can’t quantify this, it can mislead prospective clients, which breaks the rules.
For example, it’s misleading to put “lowest fees in the area” on your website because it’s misleading. Instead, state that your firm takes credit cards and provides flexible payment options. Potential clients will appreciate the upfront honesty.
Some statements are “technically true.” However, you should avoid any information that could be considered misleading in those as well. For example, don’t advertise free consultations if they’re only five minutes and you charge for anything longer. Typically, people expect a 30-minute consultation and would expect it to be free if you’ve advertised it as such.
Never Refer to Yourself as a “Specialist” or “Expert”
While it’s tempting to call yourself “an expert,” even if you have a high level of expertise, it’s against the rules. Unless you’ve been formally accredited as an expert or specialist, you’re not allowed to use that language in advertising.
According to ABA Rule 7.2, you can’t imply that you are a specialist in a legal practice area. You can, however, if an ABA-accredited association in your state, district, territory has certified you.
You can’t say you’re an expert in family law or a family law specialist unless you’ve been certified as such by the ABA. Instead, you can say you focus on a particular area of the law, such as family law. California, for example, requires that you practice law for a set number of years with a specific focus. Then, you can be considered a legal specialist.
Don’t Compensate Anyone for Recommending Your Services
Yes, positive recommendations are an excellent way to advertise your services. And you likely have clients who are ready to sing your praises. However, they must be willing to do it for free. It’s illegal to compensate past clients for recommending your services. Anyone who recommends your law firm must do so of their own accord.
You should also check the rules in your area surrounding testimonials on your law firm’s website or advertising materials. You may be required to include an attorney advertising disclaimer. They may also warn against testimonials that could be misconstrued as misleading. These are considered misleading advertisements).
Avoid Attorney Solicitation
Remember that advertising your legal services is different than soliciting your assistance. Soliciting legal services is generally prohibited.
Advertising and solicitation are both used to attract clients to a lawyer or firm. However, they’re used differently depending on how they’re targeted.
When you make a specific person or group a target of your advertising, you’re soliciting them. This is sometimes considered unethical. The ABA prohibits attorneys from directly advertising to a person who needs legal services for a specific matter.
While advertising your legal services is okay, you can’t solicit individuals. It is allowed if your advertising communications are directed to the public and not a specific individual or group.
Creating a strategy that causes your law firm’s website to appear organically on search engines is not a solicitation. Responding to online requests isn’t solicitation, either.
Establish a Physical Office Address
Some states require that attorneys have a physical office before advertising. This is true whether it’s through a website, a traditional ad, or other digital marketing methods.
For example, attorneys in Florida must prove that they have a physical office location in the same county, town, or city. Only then are they allowed to advertise their services there.
Know the Rules Before Advertising Your Attorney Services
Attorneys are conducting business differently these days, and lawyer advertising is no different. As more and more clients want to connect to lawyers digitally, attorneys need to be up-to-date on the rules surrounding advertising.
With this knowledge, you can create ethical and compelling content. This is advertising that helps you attract new business and enjoy tremendous success.
Book an appointment with us to discuss revamping your marketing strategy. We can audit your current website and advertising efforts to help you find the best solutions.