Everything You Need to Know about Lawyer Advertising Rules

As an attorney, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding lawyer advertising. PPC advertising for lawyers is regulated by state courts, as well as the American Bar Association (ABA) and other organizations. These rules are designed to protect the public from false or misleading advertising while they provide legal services.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • Whether a lawyer can advertise
  • What the lawyer advertising rules are
  • The key lawyer advertising rules you need to know in order to stay compliant with the law
  • Leaving your legal advertising to a professional
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Can Lawyers Advertise?

Yes, lawyers can advertise their services as long as they follow the rules and guidelines set by the American Bar Association (ABA), as well as other regulatory bodies in the legal industry. However, lawyers must be incredibly cautious while creating advertisements, adhering to the bar association’s stringent guidelines regarding lawyer advertising. Additionally, giving something of value to someone who recommends a lawyer’s services is against the ABA.

Any violation of the lawyer advertising rules could lead to disciplinary action, including fines, suspensions, or disbarment. Therefore, it’s crucial that lawyers fully understand these rules and take extra care to ensure that their digital marketing strategies comply with them.

Don’t miss out on potential clients! Learn how PPC marketing for lawyers can boost your law firm’s client base in 2024.

Why Do ABA Rules Matter for Lawyer Advertising?

ABA rules matter for attorney advertising because they set the standards for ethical conduct and professionalism in the legal industry. These rules ensure that lawyers uphold their obligation to provide honest and accurate information to clients and the public.

There are various ABA rules that govern lawyer advertising, such as Rule 7.1, which prohibits false, misleading, or deceptive statements. Lawyers must not make claims that are unsupported by facts or that could mislead or deceive potential clients.

Rule 7.2 guides lawyers on how they can promote their services. It allows advertising through various channels such as print, television, radio, and online platforms. However, lawyers must adhere to certain requirements such as including disclaimers, avoiding undue influence or coercion, and ensuring that their advertisements are not misleading or deceptive.

Lawyer advertising is an important means to promote legal services and generate business. But we cannot stress enough how crucial it is that they maintain the integrity of the legal profession.

What Are the Lawyer Advertising Rules?

Lawyer advertising rules are designed to promote ethical behavior and prevent lawyers from engaging in deceptive or misleading practices. Below are the key rules that lawyers must follow:

1. Never Say You Are an Expert

Badges from a website that confirm a lawyer's expertise

One of the most critical rules in ABA Rule 7.2 on lawyer advertising is that attorneys cannot claim to be experts in any particular area of law unless they have been certified as such by the state bar association. For example, an advertisement for a lawyer cannot say, “I’m an expert in personal injury law.” Instead, they can only say, “I specialize in personal injury law.” This is because only board-certified attorneys may call themselves experts in a particular area of law.

Ready to dominate search results? Learn about SEO for personal injury lawyers in our comprehensive guide.

2. Don’t Make Any False or Misleading Statements

Show true statements

Lawyers cannot make any false or misleading statements in their advertisements or on their law firm websites. This includes not exaggerating their experience, qualifications, or results. They can not create unrealistic expectations of outcomes or use slogans or titles that imply a guarantee of results. For instance, they should not say, “We always win,” or “We never lose.” These statements are not only misleading, but they can also tarnish the profession’s reputation.

3. Don’t Break the Rules of Clients’ Testimonials

Adopt a client's viewpoint and try to resolve their problem

Lawyers must also follow strict rules regarding client testimonials. They cannot use testimonials that contain false or misleading statements or that violate client confidentiality. Additionally, they cannot offer incentives or compensation in exchange for posting testimonials. Furthermore, they can only use testimonials that are representative of the typical outcomes of their legal services.

4. Don’t Malign Competing Law Firms

Be polite in writing a review about another lawyer

Lawyers cannot make any false, misleading, or deceptive statements or representations about another lawyer’s services or practices. Any advertising claims you make regarding a competing law firm must be accurate, verifiable, and transparent. Additionally, lawyers must be careful not to violate any state bar’s rules or regulations, and they must avoid any tactics that could harm the reputation of another lawyer or law firm.

5. Don’t Directly Solicit Your Legal Services

One of the ways to promote your services is to place your ad on legal directories

According to the American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers cannot solicit clients in person, via phone, or through email marketing. A very direct approach is also not allowed, and attorneys are often prohibited from advertising themselves through certain social media channels such as Instagram or Twitter. Lawyers can only advertise their services through methods that ensure the advertisement is not misleading or confusing and does not demonstrate “undue influence” or “coercion” over clients.

Find the best legal marketing firms can enhance your firm’s visibility. Read our blog post now!

What You Should Know While Advertising Legal Services

Advertising legal services require a thorough understanding of the regulatory requirements and limitations. And when lawyers understand the things they need to know, they can advertise their legal services effectively without running into ethical or legal difficulties.

Know If You Need an Office Address

Use your law firm's current address

When promoting legal services, it’s essential to recognize the regulatory prerequisites related to business registration and office address, especially in the context of local SEO for lawyers. Depending on the state, attorneys may need to maintain a physical office location that is compliant with the requirements for serving legal notices and processes.

Therefore, it’s important to check the state laws and regulations that govern the practice of law in the jurisdiction where you intend to market legal services. Some states require physical office addresses, while others may allow the use of a virtual office or a PO box.

If you’re uncertain about the legal requirements concerning office address or business registration, it’s advisable to consult a legal professional who can provide guidance on the issue.

Explore our comprehensive guide on advertising for law firms to gain valuable insights and strategies.

Know What You Can Say in Advertisements

Legal advertising is highly regulated, and there are certain rules and limitations governing what lawyers can and cannot say in their advertising campaigns. Additionally, lawyers cannot make any claim of specialization unless they are certified specialists in the area of law they are advertising. They must also avoid making any exaggerated promises or guaranteeing results in their advertising.

Lawyers are also prohibited from making statements that could create unjustified expectations about the outcome of legal services, and they must avoid using scare tactics or fear-based advertising to promote their services.

Keep Copies of Your Legal Ads

An example of lawyer local ads copy

The primary reason for keeping copies of lawyer advertisements is to show proof of compliance with the state bar rules and regulations. In case of any allegations or complaints, copies of legal ads can be used to demonstrate that the firm has been following ethical and regulatory guidelines.

The duration for which legal ads must be maintained varies from state to state. Some states require that attorney advertisements should be kept for a certain period, while others do not specify any duration. For example, in California, law firms are required to keep copies of all print and electronic advertisements for two years. In New York, law firms must keep records of all legal ads for 3 years after they are last published or aired.

Another reason to keep copies of legal ads is for internal record-keeping and analysis purposes. It helps law firms track their advertising efforts and determine the most effective advertising methods. They can analyze the response rates, and ROI, and adjust their advertising strategies accordingly.

Know If You Can Use the Trade Name of Your Law Firm

Advertising legal services using a trade name or fictitious name can be quite tricky. A trade name is a name that identifies a business, separate from the names of its owners or partners. In the case of a law firm, a trade name can help distinguish your practice from others in the market. Lawyers are prohibited under Rule 7.5 from using a firm name, letterhead, or other professional designation that violates Rule 7.1.

If a trade name does not indicate any connection with a public interest legal services provider, a government agency, or another nonprofit organization, it may be used in private practice. A law firm with locations across several jurisdictions may use the same name or professional title, but professionals’ identification must state any applicable restrictions on their practice areas.

Furthermore, if a lawyer holds a public office, their name may not appear in the name of the firm unless they are a member of the firm and actively engaged in practice. Lawyers may only explicitly claim or implicitly infer that they work for a partnership or other entity when it is the case.

Always Learn about the Local Advertising Rules for Lawyers

It is important to be aware of local advertising rules for lawyers. These rules vary from one jurisdiction to another; the rules in New York might differ from the ones in Los Angeles or they might be the same. It is also important to familiarize yourself with the different advertising mediums available and which ones are allowed in your jurisdiction. Some states have strict regulations on law firm advertising through social media, while others are more relaxed.

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Leave Your Legal Advertising to a Professional

Advertising for lawyers is important to put your law firm out there and attract customers while increasing lawyer leads, ROI, and traffic. Your law firm’s website, social media, online ads, and other digital platforms all play a critical role in reaching out to your target audience. However, advertising in the legal industry can be quite tricky because of the strict regulations set by the ABA. It is incredibly important to know and follow these rules to ensure that your advertising strategy is compliant and effective.

And if you don’t want to disobey the rules, it’s best to leave your legal advertising to a professional. A reputable digital marketing agency like Comrade Digital Marketing Agency can help you navigate the complex web of ABA rules and regulations with ease. Not only can we help you create an effective advertising strategy that targets the right audience, but we can also ensure that your advertising efforts comply with ABA guidelines.

About the Author
Ivan Vislavskiy is Comrade Digital Marketing’s co-founder and fearless leader, spearheading the agency’s production department.
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Ivan Vislavskiy

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