When executing law firm SEO services, 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. The Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct regulate all attorney advertisements and communications, this includes websites and other content posted on the internet.
Rule 7.1 states that all statements propagated by an attorney in their advertisements must be truthful. This lawyer advertising rule also prohibits truthful statements that are misleading. A statement is considered misleading if:
- It omits a fact that is necessary to keep the statement from being misleading when taken as a whole, or
- It contains a material misrepresentation of law or fact.
A statement may also be considered misleading if:
- is intended or is likely to result in a legal action or a legal position being asserted merely to harass or maliciously injure another;
- contains statistical data or other information based on past performance or an express or implied prediction of future success;
- contains a claim about a lawyer, made by a third party, that the lawyer could not personally make consistent with the requirements of this rule;
- appeals primarily to a lay person’s fear, greed, or desire for revenge;
- compares the services provided by the lawyer or a law firm with other lawyers’ services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated;
- contains any reference to results obtained that may reasonably create an expectation of similar results in future matters;
- contains a dramatization or re-creation of events unless the advertising clearly and conspicuously discloses that a dramatization or re-creation is being presented;
- contains a representation, testimonial, or endorsement of a lawyer or other statement that, in light of all the circumstances, is intended or is likely to create an unjustified expectation about a lawyer or law firm or a person’s legal rights;
- states or implies that a lawyer is a certified or recognized specialist other than as permitted by Rule 7.4;
The comments in section 7.4 outline the types of content that are permissible on an Indiana website, and also the requirements for claiming to be a “specialist” or “certified specialist:”
- A lawyer may communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law.
- A lawyer admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office may use the designation “Patent Attorney” or a substantially similar designation.
- A lawyer engaged in Admiralty practice may use the designation “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or a substantially similar designation.
- A lawyer shall not state or imply that the lawyer is a specialist in a particular field of law, unless:
- The lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an Independent Certifying Organization accredited by the Indiana Commission for Continuing Legal Education pursuant to Admission and Discipline Rule 30; and,
- The certifying organization is identified in the communication.