When taking on law firm digital marketing, 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.
Most lawyer advertising rules related marketing online in Idaho can be found in Rule 7.1 through Rule 7.4 in the section for Information About Legal Services in the Idaho Rules for Professional Conduct.
Rule 7.1 governs communications concerning a lawyer’s services. It states that a lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services. A communication is false or misleading if it:
- 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 rules of professional conduct or other law; or
- compares the lawyer’s services with other lawyer’s services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated
Rule 7.2 governs all advertising. It states that a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media; however, they must also:
- Keep copy or recording of an advertisement for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used.
- A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may
- pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this Rule;
- pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. A qualified lawyer referral service is a lawyer referral
service that has been approved by an appropriate regulatory authority.
- Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.
Rule 7.3 governs the solicitation of clients. A lawyer is not permitted by in-person, live telephone or real-time electronic contact, solicit professional employment when a significant motive for the lawyer’s doing so is the lawyer’s pecuniary gain. When a lawyer is soliciting clients to anyone known to be in need of legal services “every written, recorded or electronic communication from a lawyer shall include the words “Advertising Material” on the outside envelope, if any, and at the beginning and ending of any recorded or electronic communication, unless the recipient of the communication is a person specified in paragraphs (a)(1) or (a)(2).”
Rule 7.4 governs communication of fields of practice and specialization. This rule allows lawyers to communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law; however, A lawyer shall not state or imply that a lawyer is certified as a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
- the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by the Idaho State Bar
- the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication