For many lawyers, advertising on the Internet can seem complicated. Questions arise of which site works best, which plan should I get and ultimately, will I get business from any of this? It will make your head spin for sure. Unfortunately, it doesn't help that regulations and rules apply to lawyers in every state.
Most people think of the Internet as this vast world of browsers and users exchanging data. In essence, that's exactly what it is but with certain boundaries in place in order for there to be order. A bit ironic if you ask me.There are some unanswered questions through my investigation about what is ethical in advertising.
There is a huge difference between solicitation in the real world and the Internet. A website, is the most common way by any company to exchange information to multiple people at once. Solicitation? Depends. What if the website had a 'live-chat' person waiting to answer all your questions and concerns? Would that be considered solicitation or advertising? Some would argue by you accessing their website, you have made the first contact. There is this real cliché about attorney websites. There are always pop ups of some mysterious person wanting to answer our questions. It happens so often, that we are so curious and say, "hello". It reminds me of when you are walking down the food court at a mall. As you are walking by to see what each food stand offers, you are shoved a sample in your face. I wasn't necessarily seeking your product but am forced to consume this information, in this case the teriyaki chicken.
The ABA or The American Bar Association issued an ethics opinion about activities surrounding online advertising for lawyers. It stated, "If online activities promote law practice, they are considered attorney advertising." Profiles, Timelines and Pages promote you as a lawyer and must comply with your respected state's rules. Unfortunately, attorneys violate the bar rules without even knowing. Make sure you are in charge of creating your content for your website and be involved in the process from start to finish.
Imagine an ethical advertising campaign, one with 'net-etiquette'. There are too many grey areas in ethical advertising and not enough simplicity. Simply move away from what the norm is set and chances are, you will see results.
If you want to read more regarding the ABA and gathering information about rules and regulations please click HERE.