Although all marketing is full of ethical pitfalls, it is especially of concern to attorneys. It has been said many times that if you outsource your marketing you outsource your ethics and your reputation, and this is absolutely true. All content from QLW is written by a former attorney who is aware of and cares about the ethics rules that govern attorneys. We take the ethics rules very seriously and will never put your reputation in jeopardy. Although each state has their own version of the Rules of Professional Conduct, all of them are patterned after the ABA’s model rules with several state-specific variations. The Rules governing advertising are generally found in Rules 7.1 – 7.5. Rules that apply in every state include:

  • You cannot make false or misleading claims in any marketing materials, including your website or blog. It is not enough that a statement is technically true – if it would tend to mislead a potential client, it is not acceptable for an attorney’s website.
  • You cannot guarantee a particular result to any client, whether express or implied. For example, if you create a representative cases page to highlight your or your firm’s successes, you should include a clear disclaimer that states each client’s situation is different and expressly state that you cannot guarantee similar results in any client’s case.
  • You cannot compare yourself to other attorneys in your area or disparage other attorneys’ services. For example, you cannot state that you are the best personal injury lawyer, or that your firm wins more cases than the guy down the street.

Two simple rules will help you ensure that you do not inadvertently violate the ethics rules:

1) Do not entrust your marketing or websites to anyone who is not familiar with and serious about attorney ethics. There are marketing companies out there who do not understand or do not care about attorney ethics rules, and sometimes their methods will backfire on you.

2) Remember that you are responsible for all content on your firm’s sites, and it is your reputation on the line. Participate in drafting the content, and, at an absolute minimum, review and adopt all content as your own before it goes live on your sites. Remember that when the rules are violated, it is you who is at risk of being disciplined, not your marketing company.