When considering 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. The lawyer advertising rules for digital marketing in Minnesota are governed by the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct. While these rules are restrictive it is entirely possible to run an effective digital marketing campaign while still complying to them.
According to Rule 7.2, “a lawyer may advertise services through written, recorded, or electronic communications, including public media.” Despite the fact that advertising involves an active quest for clients, contrary to the tradition that a lawyer should not seek clientele. The law rules to satiate the public’s need, especially the need of persons of moderate means who have not made extensive use of legal services, to know about legal services over the considerations of tradition. However, attorneys are prohibited from presenting anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services other than paying the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications permitted by this rule, or pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit lawyer referral service.
Rule 7.1 prohibits lawyers from making 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 of law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.
Rule 7.3 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct define 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.” Solicitation for professional employment by written, recorded, or electronic communication or by in-person or telephone contact is prohibited when the target of the solicitation has made known to the lawyer a desire not to be solicited by the lawyer or if the solicitation involves coercion, duress, or harassment. To avoid misleading potential clients, all written, recorded, or electronic communication from a lawyer soliciting professional employment from anyone known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter shall clearly and conspicuously include the words “Advertising Material” on the outside envelope.
Rule 7.4 allows a lawyer to communicate whether to do or do not practice in particular fields of law; however, “if the attorney is not certified as a specialist or if the certifying organization is not accredited by the Minnesota Board of Legal Certification, the communication shall clearly state that the attorney is not certified by any organization accredited by that Board, and in any advertising subject to Rule 7.2, this statement shall appear in the same sentence that communicates the certification.”