When doing internet marketing for law firms, it’s important to be mindful of your state’s bar regulations for advertising. In this article we’ll go over some of the high level points to look out for. All communications made by attorneys and law firms that are published on the internet and on websites are governed by Rule 7.1 of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct. This lawyer advertising rule outlines the general requirements all attorneys and law firms must abide by when engaging in advertising and solicitation. According to Rule 7.1, a lawyer may not make false or misleading communications about their services. A communication is considered misleading if:
- Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading; or
- Contains an assertion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services that cannot be substantiated.
Rule 7.1 also states lawyers exercise caution when using advertisements that include favorable verdicts, client endorsements, and damage awards:
“This rule governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising. It is especially important that statements about a lawyer or the lawyer’s services be accurate, since many members of the public lack detailed knowledge of legal matters. Certain advertisements such as those that describe the amount of a damage award, the lawyer’s record in obtaining favorable verdicts, or those containing client endorsements, unless suitably qualified, have a capacity to mislead by creating an unjustified expectation that similar results can be obtained for others. Advertisements comparing the lawyer’s services with those of other lawyers are false or misleading if the claims made cannot be substantiated.”
It is therefore essential that advertisements from attorneys contain a disclaimer about the attorney’s services. The disclaimer should be displayed with equal prominence to the rest of the content on the website.