If you are 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. Georgia’s State Bar has no lawyer advertising rules that specifically apply to digital marketing or an attorney’s website. It is still vitally important that an attorney understand the advertising rules stated in the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct.
Rule 7.2 states that an attorney is permitted to advertise their services through h the use of written or electronic communication, such as attorney websites. However, all advertisements must:
- be kept for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used
- include the name, physical location and telephone number of each lawyer or law firm who paid for the advertisement and who takes full personal responsibility for the advertisement.
While attorneys are permitted to advertise their services, they are not allowed to use false, fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading information in any communication, including websites as defined in Rule 7.1 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct. A communications can be considered false or 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;
- is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct or other law;
- compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyers’ services unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;
- fails to include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content; or
- contains any information regarding contingent fees, and fails to conspicuously present the following disclaimer:
“Contingent attorneys’ fees refers only to those fees charged by attorneys for their legal services. Such fees are not permitted in all types of cases. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client.”
- contains the language ‘no fee unless you win or collect’ or any similar phrase and fails to conspicuously present the following disclaimer:
“No fee unless you win or collect” [or insert the similar language used in the communication] refers only to fees charged by the attorney. Court costs and other additional expenses of legal action usually must be paid by the client. Contingent fees are not permitted in all types of cases.
Rule 7.4 states that an attorney may not claim to be a “specialist” or in a certain field of law or “certified” in any communication, however a lawyer may:
“communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law. A lawyer who is a specialist in a particular field of law by experience, specialized training or education, or is certified by a recognized and bona fide professional entity, may communicate such specialty or certification so long as the statement is not false or misleading.”