Can Lawyers Advertise Legal Services Online?
Lawyers can advertise their legal services online if they follow the legal advertising rules according to the American Bar Association (ABA) Rule 7.2 : Communications Concerning a Lawyers Services. This rule offers strict guidelines for how those in the legal profession can advertise online.
There are several rules of professional conduct when it comes to lawyer advertising rules.
Lawyers must refrain from undignified advertising as this diminishes the public’s confidence in the legal system. The language used in lawyer advertising may be clear and avoid ambiguity. Advertising lawyers should uphold the dignity of the profession. The ABA endorses responsible lawyer advertising that informs the public of valuable legal services (especially in underserved areas).
Can You Use Your Law Firm's Trade Name in Legal Ads?
Before using your law firm’s trade name in your ads, you’ll want to check with the local jurisdiction on what is permitted. Many jurisdictions have rules outlining what can be included in attorney advertising, so you’ll want to ensure that using a trade name is allowed.
For example, New York just lifted their ban on using trade names in lawyer advertising. While using trade names in advertising has become more relaxed in recent years, it’s still best to check your jurisdiction’s lawyer advertising rules.
What Should You Include in Your Law Firm's Ads?
Attorney advertisements should promote competence and integrity while showcasing their commitment to serving the public’s legal needs.
Any type of lawyer advertising should help the public understand their legal rights and the judicial process, as well as the lawyer’s services they provide. When discussing hourly or fixed rates in advertising, it’s important to specify which services cost and how much.
What Can a Law Firm Not Do in Attorney Advertising?
In Rule 7.2, the American Bar Association outlines the lawyer advertising rules regarding advertising for a lawyer or law firm. Before advertising, you will also want to look at your state bar associations’ marketing rules and regulations as well since these can vary from state to state.
Here are a few attorney advertising rules outlined by the American Bar Association:
Avoid Saying "Expert" or "Specialist"
Regardless of how much expertise you and your law firm have regarding certain legal practice areas, avoid using “expert” or “specialist” in your marketing campaigns.
According to Rule 7.2, lawyers must only consider themselves experts in an area of practice if they have been certified by an ABA-accredited organization authorized by your state, district, or U.S. Territory.
If your law firm is focused on a particular practice area, highlight that in your lawyer advertisements instead of referring to yourselves as experts. For example, you can say that your law firm has over 20 years of handling personal injury cases instead of calling yourselves “the personal injury experts.” This won’t hinder your ability to reach prospective clients, as all lawyers must follow the rules of professional ethics.
Don't Make Misleading Statements
Making false or misleading statements about your services is unethical legal advertising.
Calling your law firm “the best” or offering “the cheapest services” can be considered deceptive, even though you might think your firm is the best or believe your prices are the lowest. If you offer your clients the option to pay using a payment plan, you can mention that your law firm has a flexible payment opportunity instead of saying you’re the cheapest.
Another example of a false or misleading statement is offering a free consultation. If you offer a free consultation, make sure the entire consultation is free, not just the first few minutes. Many law firms may advertise this service but charge after the first five minutes. This is also considered false or misleading according to the American Bar Association’s rules of professional conduct.
Some areas and publications have “The Best of…” awards, which can often be awarded to attorneys. For example, if you were voted “The Best Lawyer of the Year,” you can use this in your advertising. This is not you calling yourself the best, but an award stating that you are the best.
Maintain Client Privacy When Promoting Client Testimonials
When sharing client testimonials on your law firm’s website, they must follow the guidelines outlined by the American Bar Association. The client must submit their review independently and not receive compensation for the testimonial. When posting testimonials as part of your legal advertising campaign, avoid publishing any that can be considered misleading or might give future clients the expectation that they will achieve the same results.
To maintain confidentiality, you’ll want to eliminate any identifying details before publishing any testimonials, as well.
These same attorney advertising rules apply to awards, publications, and bar association memberships. Legal or law-related publications/accolades and current bar associations or other professional association memberships are safe to use.
In addition to looking at the ABA when it comes to promoting client testimonials, you will also want to research your state bar’s lawyer advertising rules regarding testimonials as well. This is your professional responsibility.
Don't Criticize The Competition
It never looks good to criticize the competition in any industry, and it’s considered unprofessional, especially in lawyer marketing. All law firms should treat their competitors fairly.
Digital Marketing Strategies for Lawyers
While local attorneys may still advertise their legal services on bus benches and billboards, digital advertising is becoming more relevant in potential clients’ search for legal representation.
In this day and age, attorney advertising has shifted to more of an online presence instead of traditional advertising methods, such as direct mail, the yellow pages, television commercials, and newspaper ads. It’s important to stay current with digital marketing strategies for law firms to avoid accidentally violating one of the attorney advertising rules.
Consider whether you’re marketing yourself as a lawyer or a law firm when developing a digital marketing strategy. If you’re promoting yourself as a lawyer, the focus will be on yourself and your brand. The attorney advertisements will focus on your credibility and why clients and law firms should hire you. If you’re marketing a law firm, focusing on a brand is still important, but this will revolve around the personal brands and professional ethics that the attorneys have within the law firm.
Digital Advertising for Lawyers
The four main digital channels for attorney advertising are listed below.
Local Service Ads
Local Service Ads and Google Screened ads are more valuable than the standard PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads since they are found at the top of the search engine results page above traditional Google Ads.
Attorney advertising using Local Service ads can generate a lot of online and local traffic and increase phone-call leads. Local service ads are pay-per-lead instead of pay-per-click, and the same lawyer advertising rules apply. These ads are based on positive reviews, proximity, and other factors. Law firms featured in Local Service ads will have the “Google Screened” verification above them, adding an extra layer of trust.
The marketing professionals at Digital Logic have extensive experience managing lawyer advertisements via Google’s Local Service Ads platform.
Google PPC Ads
With Google PPC (Pay-Per-Click) ads, keywords are bid on those individuals seeking legal representation would use.
If the Google PPC ad campaign is appropriately set up, your legal advertising will appear in all the relevant searches. When a prospect clicks on the ad and visits your law firm’s website, you’re charged for the ad. While this form of lawyer advertising sounds easy, mistakes can be costly.
At Digital Logic, our PPC management specialists know how to reach your target audience and increase your return on investment without using compromising or coercive ads.
Social Media Ads
While social media marketing is not the most popular form of attorney advertising, you must recognize this opportunity to create more visibility and leads as a lawyer or law firm. Facebook has over two billion active users, and Facebook ads can provide instant access to potential clients’ newsfeeds.
It’s important to note that every disciplinary rule you follow with paid advertising needs to be followed on social media platforms, as well.
Legal Directories Ads
Legal directory ads are like a digital phone book for law firms. If you provide legal services, advertising on websites like Avvo, Lawyers.com, FindLaw, and other lawyer directories can help increase your law firm website traffic and help generate leads.
While creating a free online profile is an option on many of these sites, some law firms pay for advertising on these platforms, as well.
SEO for Lawyers
Search engine optimization (SEO) for lawyers is optimizing specific keywords for law firm websites to improve link structure and speed to increase their rank results on search engines. This practice for lawyers is one of the most effective ways to increase exposure and draw more clients to your firm. For example, keywords like “personal injury attorney” or something more specific like “Louisiana wrongful death attorney” can increase your website’s visibility.
Content marketing for law firms is a practical, long-term digital advertising strategy. By creating blogs, videos, infographics, social media, and more, you can improve your organic search rankings and user experience while helping promote awareness for your firm’s legal services. By creating content and optimizing SEO, new clients can find you easier through organic searching. This content drives potential clients to your website while building their trust. Creating content helps new clients experience your legal expertise, understand your legal capabilities and feel a connection with you.
Google Business Management
A Google Business Profile is a free service that allows local businesses to manage their listings in Google search results easily. This tool is easy to use and can give your firm more visibility. The information that you upload about your firm – name, physical office address, contact details – will populate to the right of the regular Google search results, drawing more attention than the list of search results that pop up. Google Business Profiles also show a map of where to locate your business and reviews from past clients.
Partner With an Award-Winning Law Firm Marketing Agency
The specific rules and regulations the ABA and local state bar associations put in place can make it seem like they are severely limiting attorney advertising regulations for digital marketing. Not to mention it can be very confusing when you start to dive into SEO and PPC. At Digital Logic, we’ll take care of your legal advertising strategy, so all you have to focus on are the legal services you provide. We have experience working with law firms big and small and can help you achieve your marketing goals to grow your law firm and build your clientele.
We offer free website SEO audit services and free consultations.