So, your new law office is ready to start advertising, marketing, and soliciting business—you can just jump in and get started, right?
Not so fast. As you may well know, your state bar association likely has a set of ethics rules that you will need to abide by when creating your attorney website and designing your attorney marketing strategy. While some of these rules make good sense and prevent misleading advertising, other rules may seem arbitrary or even nonsensical. Either way, violating the rules can have serious consequences and knowing how to successfully market within the constraints of the rules is vital.
For example, the Florida State Bar has guidelines for television ads, radio ads, electronic mailings, websites, videos, banner ads, social networking sites, video sharing sites, and direct mailings. Also, they have rules for how a lawyer speaks about his or her experience and how a lawyer speaks about his or her qualifications. And these rules are updated often!
Here’s a look at some of the lawyer advertising rules and ethics rules from across the country:
- The Kentucky State Bar requires attorneys and law offices to submit all newsletters at least 30 days before they are sent out.
- The North Carolina Bar has challenged an attorney who claimed to be a member of the "Million Dollar Advocates' Forum" because they found the claim to be misleading.
- The Connecticut Bar conducts attorney website audits that are especially hard on attorneys who focus on specific practice areas.
- New York Bar has considering banning different types of emerging online technologies and marketing trends, such as pop-up ads.
- The Florida Bar has banned certain sounds in attorney advertising!
Many state bar associations have been updating their rules regarding professionalism and marketing in recent months and years as Internet advertising has become a larger part of attorney marketing strategies—and many bar associations are struggling with how to approach issues like social networking platforms and online video sharing websites like YouTube. It’s important that you are familiar with your state’s guidelines and that you know how to best market your law firm within those parameters.