Most states’ bar rules place certain restrictions on lawyer advertising in an effort to protect the public. Since lawyer advertising generally encompasses law firm website content, you must ensure that the content on your site does not violate any lawyer advertising rules. While attorney advertising rules differ from state to state, below are four statements you should generally avoid.
1. Claiming You are the Best
You should never claim that your firm, your lawyers, or your services are “the best” (or use words of similar import). All claims made in your website must be able to be substantiated by objectively verifiable evidence. Since it is impossible to prove you are the best in comparison to other firms or attorneys (what does “the best” really mean?), you should avoid such language in your law firm website content.
Below are a few examples of language that may violate this rule in some states:
- Leaders in litigation
- Unparalleled legal representation
- Most experienced law firm
Other synonyms to avoid: unsurpassed, incomparable, matchless, unequaled, second to none.
2. Promising a Guaranteed Outcome
You should never promise a victory, a favorable result or a guaranteed outcome. Promising a certain outcome creates an expectation in the reader and the reader may rely on that statement when choosing your firm. Examples of statements that promise a specific outcome include:
- We fight, you win.
- We will get you the maximum amount of compensation to which you are entitled under the law.
- You can count on us to get you the money you deserve.
3. Purporting Best Results
Most states prohibit any law firm website content that purports best results. Again, all statements on your website must be true and objectively verifiable. Furthermore, if your website is challenged, the attorney bears the burden of proof. To be on the safe side, you may want to avoid the word “results” entirely.
The following are some phrases that walk a fine line when it comes to purporting best results:
- Record-setting results
- Precedent setting
- Track record of success
Some states prohibit any mention of past results such as the amount of previous damage awards, verdicts or settlements. Other states require a disclaimer and/or impose specific restrictions on the type of results mentioned or require law firms to disclose information necessary to prevent the statement from being misleading.
4. Claiming Specialization or Expertise
Generally, an attorney who is not board certified in the area of law in which he practices cannot state that he is an expert or specialist or any similar variation such as:
- Board certified
However, you can state that you focus on, concentrate in, or limit your practice to certain areas of practice as long as the statements are true.
Not certain whether your law firm website content will pass muster? Most state bar associations have an ethics hotline that you can call to determine whether a specific phrase complies with the state’s lawyer advertising guidelines.
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