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 and regulations for attorney digital advertising in the state of Vermont can be found in the Vermont Rules for Professional Conduct.
Vermont’s general rule on attorney advertising, Rule 7.2, permits lawyers to advertise their services through internet marketing. The specific rules regarding ads can be found in Rules 7.1 through 7.4.
Rule 7.1 prohibits false or misleading statements about the services of the law firm or the lawyer. A statement is considered false or misleading if it creates an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.
Rule 7.3 governs solicitation and direct client contact. 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.
Under rule 7.4, an attorney is permitted to communicate the fact that they “does or does not practice in particular fields of law.” However, under Rule 7.4(c),a lawyer may not “state or imply that the lawyer has been recognized or certified as a specialist in a particular field of law.”
An exception applies to certain limited circumstances for patent lawyers and admiralty lawyers or for lawyers that have been certified as a specialist by a “named organization.” If the attorney does posess such a certification they must provide a disclaimer stating that there is no procedure in Vermont for approving certifying organizations. The disclaimer is not required if the organization has been accredited by the American Bar Association to certify lawyers as specialists in a particular field of law.”