The Importance of Updating Your Law Firm’s Website After an Attorney Leaves

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Law firm owners have a whole host of legal and ethical obligations and rules to abide by when dealing with the dismissal or exit of an attorney or partner, many of which are established by their state’s bar association. The Internet-savvy world we live in makes it just as important for firm owners in such situations to be mindful of the relevant state bar rules and obligations that apply to their websites as well.

Depending on the circumstances, when an attorney leaves, there will likely be numerous issues to be dealt with, ranging from ensuring proper client notification is made to trying to maintain as much of an upbeat morale in the office as possible. Still, it is crucial for you to take immediate steps to ensure your website is kept as current as possible — otherwise, it could be deemed misleading in violation of some state bar rules.

Regardless of whether you are a new lawyer who has only had a firm for two years, or a well-established firm owner who has been around for decades, the obligation is the same: Whenever a change occurs within your firm, make certain your website is updated in a timely manner.

If an attorney leaves the law firm, his or her name should be removed from the website immediately. Leaving the departed attorney’s name on the website could be viewed as misleading, which can get you in trouble with most bar associations.

Remember: Websites Are Ads Too

In the majority of states, law firm websites are considered advertisements that can be regulated by the bar association in the state where the firm is located. Generally, the state bar rules, as well as the state’s rules of ethical and professional conduct, include very specific provisions governing law firm website marketing and advertising.

As more and more firms begin to take advantage of all the Internet has to offer with respect to advertising their practice, state bar rule compliance has become essential and unfortunately, those with smaller firms or newly-formed firms may not know or appreciate the seriousness of the rules and guidelines.

In fact, it is easy for a firm to be in violation of state bar rules, particularly when they did not play an active role in developing the website. Nevertheless, there are a number of rules that are relevant to all law firms that advertise via the Internet or in print. Even if you did not participate in the creation of your firm’s website, at least one of the attorneys named on the site must be held accountable for the site’s content.

False or misleading statements extend beyond claims of being “the best in the country” or “the cheapest firm in town.” Simply put, all statements on a firm’s website must be truthful, which applies to the services offered, client testimonials and especially the names of the attorneys listed as being part of the firm.

As you seek to find ways to continue to grow your business, maintaining the integrity and accuracy of your website should be at the top of your to-do list. If you need help updating your website, or if you have questions about potential updates you already have in mind, contact PaperStreet for assistance.

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