Originally published by Bob Kraft.
There is no doubt that marketing can help grow your legal practice, but it is critical that your marketing program follow ethical guidelines. While other industries can advertise in almost any way they choose, law firms in particular may be scrutinized for their techniques and the ethics that they use. However, that does not mean that your law firm needs to stray away from marketing entirely. These tips can help you build your client base while keeping within the requirements for ethical advertising in the legal industry.
Professionally Train Your Staff
Your staff knows your law firm the best, which is why you rely on them to help you develop marketing strategies. What they may not know, however, are the legal requirements for advertising a law firm. Consider hiring a professional agency to train your staff in the legalities of law advertising. Many companies offer in-house training, bringing the information to your staff at your site. You may also consider sending your marketing staff to a training session, like those with The Rainmaker Institute, so they are not distracted by day-to-day duties. By training your staff about ethical requirements in legal advertising, you will avoid making mistakes that could lead to fines, sanctions or even disbarment if the violation is severe enough.
Disclaimers and Privacy Policies
Avoid Certain Language
There is certain language that law firm advertising must avoid. Lawyers should never claim to be specialists in a certain field of law unless they are certified to call themselves specialists. It is best to avoid the word “specialist” or “specialize” in all advertising. You also must avoid unverifiable claims. For example, you should not use the phrase “best criminal lawyer in the area,” even if you have an outstanding track record for acquittals. Being the “best” at something is difficult to prove and you could be sanctioned for providing false or misleading information. When you do include information about your record, be sure to include a disclaimer. If your website says you won billions in accident settlements, include a statement that says every case is different and prior results do not indicate such success in all case.
Sell Responsiveness and Ability
When someone hires an attorney, they want to know that the lawyer will be accessible, will return phone calls and has handled similar cases in the past. There are ways you can ethically let potential clients know the answer to these questions. Statements like “A paralegal does not handle your case. I do” shows clients that you work directly with them. Provide after-hours numbers for clients to reach you to demonstrate accessibility. You can mention that phone calls are returned within 24 hours. You can state that you have handled hundreds of cases just like theirs without getting into specifics in order to put potential clients at ease.
These simple tips can help you avoid ethics violations in your website and advertising. By using selective wording, disclaimers and privacy statements, your clients can feel more at ease and you are more likely to see your client base grow.
Author Info: Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake. You can find her on Twitter.
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