Lawyer advertising can be a slippery slope, and you must be extra careful in the messaging and promotion of your legal services. Marketing for lawyers is subject to strict laws enforced by the Florida Bar.
Before using an ad, you must send it into the Florida Bar along with the filing fee, the ad’s duration and usage, 20 days before publishing or using it.
Once the Florida Bar receives it, they must review it within 15 days. The only exception is if they require additional information or determine that they need to examine the ad further. Either way, they will inform you of the need for more info or that it was rejected or accepted. If you do not receive any communication from the Florida Bar within 15 days of receiving it, you can use the ad and consider it approved.
You must submit each advertisement separately, and the Florida Bar will open a new file for it and assign it a unique identification number. The Florida Bar will review it to ensure it is complete and then let you know their decision. Be sure to check all the filing requirements before submitting anything. If you forget to send in the correct details, they will contact you for more information. During that time, you must not use the ad until it is approved.
If you file it correctly with all the required information, the Florida Bar will review and make sure it complies with Florida Rules Subchapter 4-7. If your ad falls into one of the exempt categories, they will return your fee to you and provide no opinion, and you can use the advertisement immediately.
If the ad is not exempt, the SCA will send you a letter stating that it is approved or rejected. In some cases, there may be some areas of non-compliance, and you must follow the outlined procedure to fix it.
You can obtain a preliminary opinion on a draft advertisement. However, it does not mean the ad is approved. You will also need to send in a final copy of the ad 20 days before you use it and wait for the final approval.
If you receive a letter back and your ad is not approved for use, you have the option of filing a written request for a second opinion. You must file the request within 30 days of the date of your non-compliance letter. Always include the following information:
Your filing will be reviewed at the next Florida Bar SCA (Standing Committee on Advertising) meeting. They will review the original ad, their opinion, and any subsequent information you provided. The SCA will vote on your file to sustain, reverse, or change the original opinion. The SCA may choose to defer its decision until it obtains more information. Regardless, you will receive a notification after the meeting.
When filing a review request, you should send in a modified ad that complies with the stipulations in the opinion notice.
If you are not happy with the SCA’s decision, you also have the right to appeal to the “Board of Governors by sending a written request for review to Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2300, within 30 days of notice of the SCA action that is the subject of the appeal.”