When performing law firm web 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 of the lawyer advertising rules related to digital marketing in the State of Maine can be found in the Maine Rules of Professional Conduct including the following rules:
7.1: Governs all communications about a lawyer’s services, including advertising permitted by Rule 7.2. The rule essentially states that all forms of advertising or whatever means are used to make known a lawyer’s services, statements about them must be truthful. Rule 7.1 defines a truthful statement as a whole statement, meaning that statements that are truthful but omit necessary facts are misleading. Statements that have a substantial likelihood of leading a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation are also misleading. Advertisements that report a lawyer’s achievements of former clients may also be misleading if they lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation that the same results could be obtained for future clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.
7.2 Governs advertising. This rule permits that a lawyer may “advertise services through written, recorded or electronic communication, including public media.” However, lawyers are not permitted to give anything of value to another person for recommending their services, except:
- 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 operated, sponsored or approved by a bar association or bar regulatory organization;
- refer clients to another lawyer or a nonlawyer professional pursuant to an agreement not otherwise prohibited under these Rules that provides for the other person to refer clients or customers to the lawyer, i
- 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.
7.3 This rule regulates contact between an attorney and their potential clients. Solicitation involving harassing conduct, coercion, duress, compulsion, intimidation or unwarranted promises of benefits is prohibited. Lawyers are not permitted to solicit any potential client through any means if the prospective client has made known they do not wish to be solicited by a lawyer.
7.4 Governs an attorney’s Communication of Field of Practice and Specialization. While a lawyer is permitted to communicate the fact that they do or do not practice, concentrate or specialize in particular fields of law, unless they have been certified as a specialist by an organization that has been approved by an appropriate state authority or that has been accredited by the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar; and
the name of the certifying organization is clearly identified in the communication.