The Ethics of Lawyer Advertisements: Practical Answers to 5 Common Questions

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The Ethics of Lawyer Advertisements: Practical Answers to 5 Common Questions

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Lawyer advertisement plays a significant role in attracting clients and building a successful law firm. However, lawyers must abide by ethical guidelines set forth by governing bodies to ensure that they uphold their professional responsibilities. 

The American Bar Association (ABA) has released a set of guidelines to address some of the most pressing ethical concerns faced by lawyers when it comes to advertising. This guide has gained prominence in recent years and provides practical answers to some critical ethical questions that lawyers encounter in their advertising practices. 

In this article, we will explore five common questions and provide actionable advice to help lawyers comply with the guidelines on attorney advertising while still successfully promoting their firms.

1. Are Lawyers Allowed to Advertise?

Lawyers are allowed to advertise their services as long as they abide by the ABA Rule 7.2 and the local laws about lawyer advertising. 

Rule 7.2 sets down these four essential lawyer advertising rules.

  • Part one confirms that you can advertise your services on different platforms.
  • Part two explains when lawyers can and cannot compensate people and groups recommending their services.
  • Part three sets limitations to when lawyers can and cannot cite that they are specialists or experts in specific fields.
  • Part four clearly states that any law firm’s advertising content should include the contact details of the lawyer or law firm that published the material.

Rule 7.2 is short and straightforward. However, note that more rules are established on the state level, so it is best to stay informed about your local laws, too. 

2. Why Should Lawyers and Law Firms Abide by the ABA Rule 7.2?

Aside from ensuring that they are advertising in an ethical manner, lawyers should abide by Rule 7.2 for the following reasons:

  • To ensure poorly made advertisements cannot taint the legal industry’s integrity and dignity
  • To appropriately inform and educate audiences about the legal industry, its processes, and their rights
  • To make sure that published lawyer advertisements have a clear message
  • To reach lawyers’ intended audience

Rule 7.2 serves not to limit but to regulate advertising for lawyers. It’s a guide to ensure that the advertisements you produce contribute to the positive image of the legal industry as a whole.
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3. What Can I Include in My Legal Advertisements?

More than the services you offer, there are specific details you should keep an eye on in legal advertising to ensure that your advertisements abide by the rules. Here are the things you can include in your advertisements and how to incorporate them correctly.

Legal or Trade Name

Local advertising laws dictate whether you can use your trade name or solely use your legal name in your ads. Some states allow trade names, while others are stricter. This is regulated to ensure that current and potential clients won’t be confused or misled about your firm’s name.

Office Address

With the pandemic giving rise to remote work, the legal industry has also become more flexible. The rules on including your office address in the advertisement now vary in different areas. Some places require a physical office address to be included in advertisements, while others don’t. The best thing to do to know for sure is to check your local laws.

Awards, Memberships, and Affiliations

Including your awards in your advertising materials can boost client trust. When they see your credentials and qualifications, they are more likely to trust your legal service. Just ensure that the accolades you include are from legitimate awarding bodies and not just assumed titles.

Your memberships and affiliations can also speak a thousand words about your capabilities—these can also be included in your advertising materials.

Rates and Fees

Posting your fees is not explicitly mentioned, and most firms reserve this for when potential clients sign up for a consultation. While you can still post your fees, make sure that’s what you will ultimately charge your clients; otherwise, they will feel misled.

Willfully Given Client Feedback

Client rating and feedback are essential in all businesses, even legal firms. The reviews and testimonials that people see in local service ads for law firms, for instance, serve as social proof to individuals looking for legal services. With this, it is the goal of every lawyer and firm to get as much positive feedback as possible. Make sure all acquired feedback is not paid for or coerced. Clients should post their comments of their own free will.

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4. What Details Should I Not Include in My Ads?

Just as there are details you should include, some should be removed from your advertising materials. When you work with a digital marketing agency for lawyers, they’ll know what to do. Nevertheless, you should still know what the restricted details are.

Pending Cases

Pending case details or feedback from a client with an unresolved case is not allowed to be included in advertisements. By excluding these details, you ensure that you are compliant with the law, you and your client’s reputations are safe, and the details are guarded against misuse.

False or Misleading Statements

False and fictitious details about your firm mislead the public, and including them in your advertisements is unethical too. It defeats the legal industry’s aim for truthfulness and transparency.

Unofficial Titles

As mentioned, you can include titles and awards in your legal advertisements, but only when an accredited body awards them. Never say you are a specialist or expert in a field when no official recognition can prove it.

Vague Pricing Descriptions

Do not include vague terms like “cheapest,” “best,” “lowest,” or anything synonymous with these words; they can mislead clients. Include truthful and specific information instead.

Staged Client Feedback

Having good client feedback and a five-star rating on your website attracts clients. But acquire them the ethical way, and never encourage clients to give feedback in exchange for any tokens and perks. 

5. What Is the Difference Between Lawyer Advertisement and Solicitation?

Lawyer advertising and solicitation are two different terms; you should know them to ensure your advertisements are done ethically.

  • Lawyer Advertising: Advertisements made for lawyers and law firms target a specific population instead of an individual.
  • Lawyer Solicitation: Because the ABA Rule 7.3 states that advertising should be directed to the public and not to a single person, solicitation to a single person is unethical, especially when it is done for the lawyer and the firm’s financial interests.

Law Firm Advertising by Local Business Marketing Solutions

In a nutshell, law firms are permitted to advertise their services, but they must abide by the ABA rules. When creating legal advertisements, it’s important to include details such as your legal or trade name, office address, awards and affiliations, rates and fees, and organic client feedback while avoiding false or misleading statements, pending cases, and fake client feedback. 

Work with a professional to create legally compliant advertisements that drive results. Local Business Marketing Solutions offers effective PPC advertising solutions that maximize visibility, reach potential clients, and grow your practice.

Contact us now for a 15-minute discovery consultation!

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