Law firm marketing is essential for the growth of your law office. While it is a common practice to delegate law firm marketing to another individual or business, there are some mistakes that can be made that could mean trouble for your law office. If you decide to hire a marketing professional or to outsource your marketing, it’s important that your choice be well-versed in the ethics rules that apply to lawyers in the jurisdictions in which you are licensed. Here are 4 law firm marketing mistakes lawyers are at risk of making.
Your Marketing Person Creates an Ad That Misleads the Public in Some Way
It is crucial that your marketing person understands the ethics rules in your jurisdiction that apply to advertising. If they don’t understand and follow those rules, the ad designed to help you gain more business could result in an ethics complaint.
Model Rule 7.1 states that “A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer’s services.” While the general rule is that a third-party discussing your services don’t apply since you, the lawyer, didn’t say it, you still have to be careful. One point that is highly subject is whether the statement made is intended to get more business for your law office. They don’t always pay a lot of credence to the person who actually writes and / or disseminates the message.
That last point is particularly important when it comes to online advertising. It doesn’t matter if it is organic advertising or pay-per-click ads, the purpose is to get more business for your law office. Always follow Model Rule 5.3 and properly supervise the person or business handling your law firm marketing to protect yourself from a possible ethics complaint.
Believing That You Have Full Control Over Digital Platforms
Online law firm marketing presents an opportunity for your law office to reach a bigger market than ever. Yet, it can also create a real problem. It’s relatively easy to revise a blog post or your own website content to make sure that you remain compliant with the rules in your jurisdiction. However, you have virtually no control over most other online platforms. You may be able to control your keywords or other small details, but it’s possible that your ad could be presented to people that aren’t really your target audience.
You Delegate Too Much to a Non-lawyer
Looking at Model Rule 5.3, lawyers have the duty to make sure that whatever actions they hire a non-lawyer to take, they must provide proper supervision to ensure that the non-lawyer’s actions are in line with the local rules. Remember that you are the one who is ultimately responsible for the actions that the non-lawyer takes on your behalf when it comes to law firm marketing. Never ask a non-lawyer to do something that you are not allowed to do for yourself.
Not Overseeing Compliance
While you don’t need to stand over the person handling your law firm marketing, you do have to make a reasonable effort to make sure that what the person or business does for you complies with local rules. So, make sure that you know the rules. Know which words, if any, are prohibited in your jurisdiction. Make sure that all required contact information is present in the ad. Monitor the ad to ensure that it remains complaint with your local regulations for the types of online media that you can control.
Ultimately, the responsibility of compliance to local rules falls on you. If you learn that you are being investigated for an ethics complaint, contact Zavieh Law to schedule a consultation. We provide both limited and full scope representation for lawyers in need of a defense strategy.