Here is a basic, abridged idea of considerations for compliance of email advertisements sent out by Florida attorneys. The comprehensive information can be reviewed in Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, Subchapter 4-7.
Name – You must include either the name of the law firm or the name of one or more attorneys — unless a qualifying provider is issuing the ad, in which case the name of that lead generator, directory, ad program, matching service, or lawyer referral service must be included.
Location – The email ad must legibly and with reasonable prominence contain the county or city of at least one bona fide office location.
Actual employee disclosure – If you use the image or voice of anyone who is not on the staff of the firm, you must include the disclaimer “Not an employee or member of law firm,” with reasonable prominence and legibility.
Referral – It must be disclosed if cases will be referred to a different attorney.
Area of law – The email ad would be noncompliant if the attorney does not currently practice in a practice area the ad promotes.
Claims of expertise – A person should be able to objectively verify anything stated in the email ad about the law firm or attorney’s record, reputation, background, or skills. See below regarding use of the concepts of expertise or specialty.
Record of results – You must not include any mention of results that
- could reasonably mislead recipients, even if they are literally accurate;
- omits material facts; or
- cannot be objectively verified.
Mentions of public officials – Titles should not be included before mentions of any public officials, including judges.
Testimonials – The law firm or attorney cannot write testimonials to be presented by clients, and no one should be reimbursed in any manner for providing them. They must contain a reasonably prominent and legible disclaimer that clients may get different or dissimilar results. They must convey the real experience of the individual, as well as representing the general experience of the clientele of the firm or attorney.
Mentions of expertise or specialty – When describing your firm’s services or its lawyers, be careful about the words specialize, specialist, expert, and expertise. This point is particularly important because an inappropriate implication or statement that an attorney is a specialist in an area goes against Florida Rule of Professional Conduct 4-7.14, one of the most common rule violations.
Rather than saying that a lawyer “specializes in” a certain legal area, it is preferable to say the attorney “focuses on” that area — unless they hold the appropriate certifications. Lawyers who have received certifications in specialty areas by national organizations accredited by the American Bar Association or by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization & Education can be said to “specialize,” be a “specialist,” or be an “expert” in that area.
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