When building digital marketing campaigns for law firm websites, 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.
In order to remain compliant with the rules of ethics in Kansas and also maintain an effective marketing campaign, it is vital to fully understand the lawyer advertising rules as designated by the Kansas Bar. Most of these rules can be found found at Rule 223, Title 7.1 for Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Service, and 7.2 through 7.4 of the section for Information About Legal Services.
Rule 7.1: states that “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.” A statement is considered 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.
The comments section of this rule states that truthful statements should not propagate false expectations for potential clients:
“statements that may create “unjustified expectations” would ordinarily preclude advertisements about results obtained on behalf of a client, such as the amount of a damage award or the lawyer’s record in obtaining favorable verdicts, and advertisements containing client endorsements. Such information may create the unjustified expectation that similar results can be obtained for others without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances.”
Rule 7.2 governs the laws for advertising through all channels including “written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.”
It is required that attorneys keep “a copy or recording of an advertisement or communication shall be kept for two years after its last dissemination along with a record of when and where it was used,”and also that “any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name of at least one lawyer responsible for its content.”
Rule 7.3 addresses the rules of soliciting clients. The comments of this rule defines solicitation as “a targeted communication initiated by the lawyer that is directed to a specific person and that offers to provide, or can reasonably be understood as offering to provide, legal services.” The rule cites the potential for abuse that comes with soliciting clients due to the already overwhelming state that comes with needing legal counsel. In order to protect potential clients,
“A lawyer shall not 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, unless the person contacted:
- is a lawyer; or
- has a family, close personal, or prior professional relationship with the lawyer.
A lawyer shall not solicit professional employment by written, recorded or electronic communication or by in-person, telephone or real-time electronic contact even when not otherwise prohibited by paragraph if:
(1) the target of solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer; or
(2) the solicitation involves coercion, duress, or harassment.
Lawyers also must include the words “advertising material” on all written, recorded, or electronic communication soliciting professional employment.
Rule 7.4 governs communication of fields and practice. Under this rule a lawyer is permitted to communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law; however, they are not permitted to imply or state that they are certified or specialized in any field, unless:
- the lawyer has been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the American Bar Association; and
- the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication