- Posted by Sarah Zets
- On November 2, 2018
- advertising, legal ethics, legal marketing, Legal Marketing Association, LMASE, The Florida Bar
Florida is recognized across the country for its strict policies relating to legal ethics. As legal marketing and communications technology continue to evolve, The Florida Bar regularly updates its regulations, so it is imperative to stay informed and up to date on the latest changes.
Elizabeth Tarbert, member of the Ethics Counsel at The Florida Bar, explained what attorneys in Florida need to keep in mind when creating and implementing their marketing strategies at an Oct. 18 Legal Marketing Association luncheon in Tampa. The Florida Bar regulations come into play daily in our client work at Poston Communications, and the LMA presentation provided a helpful reminder of the latest rules..
Here are four key takeaways:
- Advertisements of any kind cannot contain statements of prediction or promise of results. For instance, a law firm cannot advertise by saying, “We Always Win,” because that implies a guaranteed positive outcome, which is never a sure thing. Promising results can mislead potential clients and could cause issues down the road if the desired outcome is not achieved.
- A firm or attorney must be licensed to practice law in every state in which they claim an office location. Also, there must be a licensed attorney during business hours at that location – excluding satellite offices or consultations. If an office is only open by appointment, it is not considered a bona fide office and cannot be included on the list of firm locations.
- All advertisements, including television and direct mail, must have a clearly marked “Advertisement” note. The note must contrast in color with the rest of the notice. In the case of direct mail, this notice must be placed on all pieces of paper, including the outside of the envelope.
- The bar has guidelines for how lawyers may conduct business with prospective clients, and these can apply to advertising. Lawyers are prohibited from having direct contact with a prospective client with whom they have no prior professional relationship. Direct contact includes unsolicited phone calls. This means lawyers or law firms can only send unsolicited electronic or direct mail advertising to a current client, past client or someone with whom they have had a prior professional relationship.
Before embarking on a legal marketing campaign, all industry professionals should brush up on The Florida Bar’s advertising regulations in order to properly advise clients and keep them aware of potential ethical pitfalls.
Sarah Zets is an assistant account executive for Poston Communications, based in Orlando.