Marketing and Bar Rule Compliance for Legal Websites

State Bar Rules Governing Attorney Advertising

Most states consider attorney websites as advertisements as such are subject to regulatory provisions of the state’s bar association. Each state’s rules of ethics and professional conduct typically have detailed guidelines that govern the advertising and marketing of legal websites.

Although the rules vary slightly from state to state, complying with your state bar’s advertising and marketing rules for legal websites has become more important as the number of law firms advertising their practice through internet channels has increased. Despite this however, many law firm SEO and web design firms still fail to comply with these guidelines and even though they did not create the website, many attorneys end up being in violation of these guidelines without even knowing it.

Some general guidelines for all attorneys and law firms:

Attorneys must display the geographical location of their office

There are requirements for geographical location of an attorney’s law office or law firm in many jurisdictions with the most restrictive of these requiring the location of the lawyer’s principal office be displayed on the homepage. In addition, links from the homepage to another page that displays this information are generally considered insufficient. Additionally, other states require law firms to only advertise other office locations on their website if:

  • These locations are staffed a minimum of three days per week;
  • The days and times the attorney will be at the office are clarified; or
  • It is clearly stated that meetings are by appointment only.
  • Avoid using language that is prohibited

    The bar association of most states prohibit law firm advertisements from making material mis-statements or using false or misleading language. In addition, attorney websites are prohibited from using terms such as “specialized”, “specialist”, and “expert” unless the attorney is certified by their state’s Board of Legal Specialization or another type of state permitted specialization. Additionally, an attorney cannot generally claim special competence or experience in a legal area and can only claim that they are available to practice in an area of law and their websites cannot make general statements that the law firm is board certified.

    A Lawyer must take responsibility for their website’s content

    In general, public media advertisements are required to contain the name of at least one attorney who has responsibility for the content of the advertisement. In many states, the name of the lawyer or law firm responsible for their legal website’s content must be clearly displayed somewhere on the website; generally this will be the home page but it is generally a good idea to have the responsible attorneys name displayed on every page of their website to avoid any bar rule violations.

    Attorney websites require disclaimers

    In many jurisdictions, law firm websites require a disclaimer that states the content is purely legal information, and should not be construed as legal advice. In general, many states consider a single disclaimer is sufficient; however, an attorney should ideally have a disclaimer on every web page of their website. Many states also prohibit statements on attorney websites that can give potential clients unjustified expectations about the results for a particular type of case. Therefore, a statement disclaiming case results would be appropriate for jurisdictions that do allow attorneys to make use of case results in their advertisements.

    Avoid the use of false or misleading statements

    Attorney websites are also prohibited from making self-laudatory statements about one’s services such as “best,” “better” or “cheapest.” In addition, all communications on a legal website must be true and unless they can be “factually substantiated with verifiable data,” statements comparing the services of one law firm to another are also impermissible. A lot of attorneys run into the issues with self-laudatory language when making statements that describe their fees, legal skills and experience, or previous results obtained clients. Finally, some states consider an attorney’s experience, endorsements they’ve obtained, past cast results and client testimonials as false and misleading for the purposes of advertising.

    State Bar compliant legal websites and attorney advertising campaigns

    SEOwelike is a professional web design and internet marketing team that focuses on assisting U.S. attorneys and law firms develop SEO rich legal websites and marketing campaigns that are fully compliant with their state’s rules of professional conduct and bar rules covering attorney advertisements. If you are interested in taking your marketing campaigns to the next level, call us today at 718.753.8918 for a free consultation.

    Effectively Marketing Your Legal Practice Online

    Law Firm Content Marketing

    What Happened to my Website’s Traffic?

    Many businesses, including attorneys, have been asking that question a lot lately. This is because for the last decade, the core internet marketing strategies for many websites were focused on the search engines and not the visitor. The primary tactics used were:

  • Generating large volumes of inbound links from other websites; or
  • Manipulating Google rankings to make their website appear more authoritative.
  • Oftentimes, many of these inbound links were acquired from websites that Google considered low-quality (“spammy”) websites. At one point an SEO elite could purchase and register a brand new domain and have it at the top of the Google SERPs in a few weeks. Not anymore, the manipulative SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques of the past will not work for your website because the Google search engine now knows all the tricks.

    There’s a new game in town and it’s all about earning Google’s trust. So how do you go about earning Google’s trust? There’s 3 ways you can do this:

  • Trust through age;
  • Trust through authority; and
  • Trust through content
  • The success of a website ultimately hinges on creating and distributing quality content

    While having an attractive, informative and professional looking website is critical for any law firm to grow in today’s competitive market, it’s only part of the equation. In today’s market, the success of any legal website relies on a marketing philosophy known as content marketing and can be defined as the ability to create and distribute relevant and valuable content such as blogs, videos, and infographics, with the goal of influencing profitable customer action by attracting, acquiring and engaging a clearly defined audience.

    This approach involves producing high quality and compelling content that answers the questions they have related to the legal issues they may be facing and delivering that content to the online platforms that they are most likely to notice it and engage it.

    Our integrated marketing approach to helping you grow your law firm

    Effective law firm marketing involves taking in to account all of the online marketing channels you are using in order to understand what leads your ideal client directly to you. Our integrated marketing solution is a data-driven approach that leverages a wide range of marketing channels including:

  • Developing professional, SEO rich attorney websites with strategically structured hierarchies;
  • Building a solid foundation of organic traffic;
  • Participating in paid media advertising that is cost effective;
  • Managing your online reputation;
  • Engaging your targeted audience through various social media channels; and
  • Targeting the niche sub-markets that are critical to your law firm’s success.
  • At SEOwelike, our focus is making sure you are visible and easily accessible to the consumers who are searching for your services. We concentrate our efforts on developing a repository of content that is built on quality with the goal of attracting, engaging and compelling your targeted audience to take action instead of focusing on inbound links that Google can ignore or de-value at any time they choose.

    While your competitors waste their marketing budget chasing “vanity” terms with expensive attorney pay-per-click ads that provide little ROI (return on investment); why not focus your efforts on building a powerful website and distributing high-quality content that will attract and convert your ideal client?

    If you’re interested in learning more about how our attorney internet marketing and brand management services can help you attract the cases you want call SEOwelike at 718.753.8918.

    Internet Marketing for Family Lawyers

    Family Law Marketing

    Many divorce attorneys make the mistake of entering the profession believing that they can grow their practice just through word of mouth. More than likely, they find that word of mouth marketing only works for a few select divorce lawyers and regardless of whether or not marketing was originally part of the vision they had for their law practice, the simple fact is that they have to learn how to effectively market their law firm in order to compete.

    Define your goals
    The most important aspect of launching any attorney internet marketing or business development campaign is to first defining the goals of these efforts. As a divorce lawyer, you should be no stranger to having to put a plan in place for evaluating the safest and most cost effective course of action for resolving your client’s legal problems.

    Therefore, knowing what you want to achieve for your client is the same approach you should take with your advertising campaigns for a particular niche or your overall strategic marketing plan. In addition, taking the time and effort to formulate a plan on the front end will give you the framework you need to calculate your return on investment.

    Learn what your competition is doing
    In order to compete you also have to understand your competition. This understanding however goes deeper than just knowing who you competition is. You also need to evaluate and understand how they are outdoing you.

    • Is their website more professional looking and maintained?
    • Are they effectively utilizing unique, informative content that is customized to the particular niche in which their attorneys practice?
    • Are they using an internal linking structure to leverage internal page rank?
    • How effectively are they at developing inbound links from other authority websites?
    • Are they effectively using social media, video or local business listings like Google Places or Bing Maps?

    Once you understand exactly what the competition is doing right, you can build a marketing plan based on their success.

    Learn how perspective clients already perceive you
    Before launching an internet marketing campaign for your legal website, you need to have a firm understanding of how perspective clients already regard your practice. Everyone who has come in contact with your firm, from the website visitor to the UPS driver, the prospective employee, and of course the prospective clients have evaluated your skill as a lawyer based on those experiences.

    All too often, perception is reality:

    • If your office doesn’t return phone calls promptly you must be arrogant, uncaring or unapproachable;
    • If they have to wait on hold or sit in your office past their appointment time then you are again arrogant or you probably feel your time is more valuable than theirs;
    • If your blog and website look professional and are well maintained then you probably are highly competent with good attention to detail; and
    • If you honor your commitment to them on time you must be one of the few attorneys dedicated to their.

    Understanding how potential client perceive you is one of the most important concepts in legal marketing, especially in family law where everyone is potentially a prospective client.

    Our Solutions for Family Law Attorneys
    In this day and age, legal professionals need to implement some sort of plan for marketing and business development if they wish to compete. They also need to know who their target audience is, understand effective marketing practices, and develop the tracking programs for implementing their plan in order to measure and report any quantifiable results.

    If you want to learn more about cost effective marketing solutions for your law firm, contact SEO We Like today at 832.890.9002.