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Watch The Word “Expert”
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Accuracy
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Permissions
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Testimonials 
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Treat Your Competitors Fairly
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No Direct Solicitation 
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What Can And Can’t Be Included In Ads
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Kaleidico Can Help You Follow the Rules
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Attorney advertising rules help law firms reach new clients without compromising their reputation and landing their lawyers in hot water. 

Yes, lawyers and law firms can advertise. From law firm websites to social media, lawyers everywhere advertise online more often every day.

Bar associations have realized the only way a law firm survives is through new business. Advertising is one of the most effective ways firms can do just that. 

Attorney advertising doesn’t have to be intimidating or complicated. 

The first thing you need to know is Rule 7.2 from the American Bar Association (ABA) titled: “Communications Concerning A Lawyer’s Services: Specific Rules.” These rules specify what lawyers can communicate about their services via any platform. 

As with many forms of advertising, you can’t say or promise whatever you like. Plus, there are specific rules and ethics for each area of the U.S. 

Following the attorney advertising rules for your region is more than just a good idea; it’s also mandatory. 

First off, any law firm considering advertising should review the ABA rules in detail and connect with your state’s bar association. 

In this guide, we hope to give you a deeper understanding of the best practices of attorney advertising rules for your jurisdiction. We’ll give you seven attorney advertising rules that can help you connect with new clients and grow your firm’s profits.

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Watch The Word “Expert”

“Expert” can be a loaded word when advertising your law firm. 

Even if you or your firm has a significant amount of expertise in a particular area of law, it’s often against the rules to use the term. The same goes for the word “specialist.”

When can you use these terms? The key is receiving a formal certification or accreditation from an ABA-accredited organization that has been authorized by the state, district, or territory in the U.S (e.g., California). 

It’s acceptable to say your firm is focused on a particular area of law (medical malpractice) so long as you don’t use the words “expert” or “specialist” or similar synonyms (specialty, expertise, etc.).

Accuracy

Facts and accuracy are a big part of attorney advertising rules. Like most other ads, you’re not allowed to deceive or mislead the public with your claims or product. 

Be truthful about what potential clients might expect from your services. For example, know the difference between a “cure” and a “treatment.” A “cure” is permanent but a “treatment” may not be. 

Omitting details can also land you in trouble. If you offer a free ten-minute consultation, saying “free consultations” can be considered misleading. Be precise in your advertising content. 

Permissions

An attorney ad featuring someone’s picture or endorsement should have the person’s permission to use in your ad. The same goes for quotes of people outside of your staff or employed by your law firm marketing agency. Get permission and get it in writing.

There are “fair use” doctrines under U.S. copyright laws that allow limited quotations from copyrighted works, even without specific authorization from the copyright owner. 

Excepting brief quotes from service reviews, you should always seek permission from owners or direct sources to quote protected materials. For more information about fair use doctrine and aspects of copyright law and practice, check out The Copyright Handbook: How to Protect and Use Written Works, by Stephen Fishman (Nolo).

Testimonials 

Positive reviews and recommendations from past clients can help attract potential new clients. However, it’s essential to learn and adhere to your jurisdiction’s correct attorney advertising rules before using testimonials. 

Rules vary from area to area. ABA Rule 7.2 offers good practice advice, noting lawyers aren’t allowed to compensate people for recommending their services in any way.  

Anyone who recommends your legal services should be doing it on their own accord.  

Treat Your Competitors Fairly

If your ads compare your services or goods with those of another law firm or company, keep it accurate and fair. You’re not allowed to malign the reputation or services of another firm by giving misleading or false information. 

When you finish your ad content, check it carefully to ensure every statement is wholly accurate. Then, check it again. 

No Direct Solicitation 

There’s a distinction between advertising your legal services and soliciting them. The former is allowed, whereas the latter is generally forbidden. 

What’s the difference? Both tactics are trying to retain business for a law firm or lawyer, but they differ in how they are targeted. 

Advertising is a form of communication made by or on behalf of a law firm or lawyer about their available services.

Solicitation is an ad made by a law firm or lawyer targeted specifically towards a group or person. This type of targeting may be considered unethical. According to ABA Rule 7.3, a law firm or lawyer cannot direct any form of advertising communication to a specific person who may need legal services for a certain issue and offer to provide legal services for that issue. 

Rule 7.3 specifies that lawyers cannot solicit their services towards a targeted individual or group if their goal is financial gains. So long as the advertising communication is directed towards the general public, it’s not considered a solicitation. 

What Can And Can’t Be Included In Ads

These rules vary from area to area in the U.S., but the following are some examples:

  • Awards or publications. Legal industry or law-related accolades or publications may be allowed. 
  • Memberships in current bar associations or similar professional association memberships may be allowed. 
  • Identification details. Certain information to identify yourself may be required for the attorney advertising rules in your jurisdiction. Some states like Florida require ads to feature at least one attorney or law firm name. Other states like NY require ads to be explicitly identified as advertisements (i.e., must be labeled with “Attorney Advertising.”)
  • Pricing and rates. Often, you can post the hourly or fixed rates you charge. 
  • Pending matters. For example, NY’s rules of professional conduct specify to avoid including testimonials from clients who have pending matters unless you have received, in writing, informed client consent.
  • Fake documents. Don’t include fake legal documents in any of your attorney advertising. 

Kaleidico Can Help You Follow the Rules

Attorneys who advertise are fast becoming the norm. As you can see from these examples, the rules are relatively straightforward and non-intimidating. 

As more lawyers use digital communication tools to connect with potential new clients, it’s ideal they are up-to-date with the attorney advertising rules that apply to their ads. 

Why make your life more difficult by stumbling into a legal gray area when you’re trying to grow your business? 

One solution is to hire legal marketing experts like Kaleidico who have the expertise (yes, we used the word here!) and a proven track record to create effective and ethical advertising for you. 

Schedule a discovery session with our team. It won’t cost you anything to talk to us, and it might end up being one of your best decisions of the year.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

About Gabe Franklin
Gabe Franklin B.A., is a communications and marketing writer specializing in mass media, B2C, and SaaS. He holds multiple marketing certificates.

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