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 Washington Rules of Professional Conduct govern all communications made by attorneys and law firms, including digital communications. Rule 7.2 permits an attorney to advertise their services in order to better help the public obtain legal services; however, any advertising communications made by an attorney or law firm must include the name and office address of at least one attorney that is responsible for the content on the communication even if that attorney did not author the communication.
Rule 7.1 prohibits an attorney from making false or misleading communications about the services they provide. A communication can be false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of law or fact, or if it omits a fact that is necessary to make a statement not materially misleading when taken as a whole. Truthful statements can also be considered misleading under Rule 7.1. Misleading truthful statements may be misleading if they cause a reasonable person to create an unjustified expectation that the same results of previous cases will be obtained in a similar future case. A disclaimer or qualifying language may help prevent a truthful statement from being considered false or misleading. All disclaimers should be displayed with equal prominence to all other content on the attorney’s website.
An attorney may claim on their website if they concentrate in a particular field of law or not, according to Rule 7.4. However, they may not state or imply they are a specialist in a particular legal field, unless they have been awarded or recognized as a specialist by a properly identified certificate and they identify the awarding organization, or they include a disclaimer stating the Supreme Court of Washington does not recognize certifications in the legal practice.