Lawyers and firms must be very careful when advertising in print ads, online, or other mediums. Each state has its own take on marketing for law firms, and California has some very interesting rules. One, in particular, applies to any misleading or false information in ads.
Advertising may apply to any public solicitation or private communication, such as email campaigns. Rule 7 of the California Bar rules on marketing state that any attorney or law firm's website must not contain any information that may be perceived as confusing, deceptive, or misleading.
Absolute statements like "best," "lowest," "most," "highest," "will," and
"better" should not be used in advertising or marketing as they imply assurances you cannot guarantee. Additionally, you cannot make false, misleading, or deceptive statements about your fees, services, or results.
The law also points out that the old Rule 1-400 and Rule 7 are geared towards ensuring that all law firms and attorneys use fair and honest language in all their advertising.
Additionally, along with not making any statements on your website that are false or misleading, you also cannot exclude information that would also be deceitful. The public should have all pertinent information to make an informed decision about your firm.
Rule 7.1 states that the honesty rule applies to any communication with potential clients and the public. It also cautions lawyers to be careful of truthful statements that could be misleading and cause confusion, violating their ethical obligations.
To illustrate the point, comment #3 in rule 7.1 states that a truthful statement could be misleading if it "omits a fact necessary to make the lawyer's communication considered as a whole not materially misleading" or if it creates 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."
Client testimonials are a great way to market your services. However, according to California bar rule, 7 statements regarding your success on behalf of a client may also appear misleading if "presented so as to lead a reasonable person to form an unjustified expectation" that you would achieve the same results for them.
In California, most public advertising must identify at least one attorney in the ad. Even if the solicitation is for an entire law firm, at least one lawyer's full name and address must be present in the ad.
Additionally, you must include within the content of the ad the word "advertisement" or "solicitation." You can substitute other similar terms that mean the same thing.
Marketing a law firm or attorney in any state can be complicated. There are many rules to follow. Contact INGAGE today for help. We work with dozens of lawyers and law firms to help them successfully market their services and remain compliant with all state laws.