December 01, 2017
Though it wasn’t always this way, advertising has become standard in the legal industry. Attorneys use marketing to generate leads and educate consumers about their services just as businesses in other industries do. However, advertising for this particular industry can easily present ethical concerns if not executed by a South Florida marketing agency that is familiar with the rules and regulations for your sector.
Here are some tips for ensuring ethical legal marketing for your firm.
Florida law firms are required to comply with the state bar’s rules and guidelines for marketing, and failing to do so could land you in some serious hot water. Equally as important as being familiar with these requirements is knowing where and how they apply. For instance, many attorneys are unaware that social media posts can be held to the same legal advertising standards as a printed brochure.
Using words like “expert” or “specialist” without possessing the qualifications needed to do so is not only potentially misleading, it is also prohibited. If you have not been certified by Florida’s Board of Legal Specialization, you cannot claim to be an expert or specialized in that area. Likewise, stating that you are the “best” or stating that you are the most affordable can create problems as well, since the former is subjective and the latter could be proven to be false if another attorney’s services are offered at a lesser price. As a rule of thumb, if it can’t be backed by facts, don’t say it at all.
On that note, it is essential to avoid misleading statements in any communication that could be construed as marketing. This is particularly true when space is limited, as it can be easy to leave essential information out that could cause the reader to come to the wrong conclusion. If characters online are limited, consider linking out to a page with more information and a legal disclaimer. This disclaimer should advise that no case results are guaranteed, and that the intent is not to provide legal advice.
In addition to including a disclaimer on your website and mail pieces, it is important to steer clear of providing case-specific legal advice just as the disclaimer states. While showcasing the knowledge and experience you hold in your practice areas on a blog or in marketing pieces is advisable, you should always keep recommendations general. If someone seeks out insight on their own case, refer them to an attorney to discuss the matter offline.
Written words aren’t the only concern when it comes to legal marketing. There are rules that dictate how marketing materials can be designed as well. Depending on the piece, there may be specific size requirements for text and photos. Additionally, selecting the right photos is of the utmost importance. This is due to the fact that some images may not be permitted, such as depictions of accidents or ones that may have an emotional pull on the reader.
When interviewing a South Florida marketing agency to represent your law firm, you need to make sure the team is qualified to handle your unique needs. Just as it’s important for your clients to choose the right legal team, it’s essential that you are backed by the right professionals when diving into marketing.
If you’re ready to take your firm’s marketing to the next level, our experienced team is here to help.