When building digital marketing and SEO 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.
The rules for advertising in the state of Oklahoma can be found in the Oklahoma Rules of Professional Conduct, in sections: § Rule 7.1. for Communications Concerning a Lawyer’s Services, § Rule 7.2. for Advertising, § Rule 7.3 for Direct Contact With Prospective Clients, § Rule 7.4 for Communication of Fields of Practice and Certification.
Rule 7.1: This rule governs an attorney’s truthfulness in their communication of services. It states “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 communication considered as a whole not materially misleading.” This rule also prohibits truthful statements that can be considered misleading. A truthful statement is also misleading if “there is a substantial likelihood that it will lead a reasonable person to formulate a specific conclusion about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services for which there is no reasonable factual foundation.”
Rule 7.2: This rule permits an attorney advertise their services through public media, including internet and electronic media. However, an attorney is prohibited from giving anything of value, to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services. A lawyer may pay the reasonable costs of advertisements or communications, or pay the usual charges of a legal service plan or a not-for-profit or qualified lawyer referral service. The rule also states that 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: This rule regulates contact between an attorney and their potential clients. A solicitation is defined by the Oklahoma Bar Rules of Professional Conduct 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 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.
Rule 7.4: This rule permits an attorney to specify whether they do or do not practice in particular fields of law. An attorney may not, however, state or imply they are a specialist in a particular legal field unless they have been certified by Supreme Court of Oklahoma or The Oklahoma Bar. An attorney may adopt the designation, “Admiralty,” “Proctor in Admiralty” or something substantially similar if they are engaged in admiralty practice; or “Patent Attorney” or something substantially similar if they are admitted to engage in patent practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.