Each industry has its own rules when it comes to marketing. For instance, a phone company can’t advertise on channels with an audience that is predominantly children. Because children can’t sign contracts, it’s against the law to advertise a product to them that necessitates signing one. The industry of law has its own marketing rules, but unlike some industries, the changes are different from state to state. Don’t expect the law marketing rules in Pennsylvania to be the same as those in New Jersey, for example.
Because of that, being informed is of the utmost importance. As law firms team up and expand across states, knowing the differences can mean the difference between a fine and a marketing lead. If you’re going to hire a marketing firm, they must know the different rules.
If your law firm is currently doing its own marketing, let us help by educating you on the rules you have to know.
Who Makes the Law Marketing Rules in Pennsylvania?
Each state has different but similar organizations that oversee marketing in their state. The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania is the one that sets the rules for legal marketing. Their rules and regulations are collected in the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct. The thing about these rules is that they are not only about marketing and can be time-consuming to go through, but it’s important to do so.
The Law Marketing Rules in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s law marketing rules are extensive and detailed. They explain both what you cannot do and what you can do. They aren’t particularly obtuse to a layman, though we’re sure an attorney can pick them apart. We’ll summarize and go over the most important points that are going to come up when marketing for your law firm.
Altogether, the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct can be broken down into a few main subjects that will come into contention often. For exact wording and specifics, please read the rules.
What Your Law Firm Can Do
Let’s start positive with what the Rules of Professional Conduct tell you you can and should do. You can have a website and launch marketing campaigns that drive people to your website. Your law firm and a team of attorneys can also have internet profiles and social media profiles that you can use to advertise your legal services.
When it comes to your website and online profiles, there are more rules on what you must have rather than what you can’t have. For starters, every law firm’s website must keep a copy of its advertisement materials for up to two years after they were last used. This includes all:
- Website pages
- Blog posts
- News articles/reports
- Press releases
- Online ads
- Professional social media posts (not posts on an attorney’s favorite sports team)
In addition, Rule 7.2 specifically mandates that there must be at least one attorney’s name on the website who can take responsibility for the content on the website. This means there is at least one professional attorney who can be reached regarding the site’s content. This does not require the attorney to actually write the content, so much as claim responsibility for approving it. Attorneys are more than welcome to allow or employ others to write content for their website as long as one attorney’s name is readily available from the website.
Also, your website must have your principal office’s location, specifically the city or town. This is so potential clients know where you practice law. You do not have to provide your street address, though we as marketers strongly encourage you to.
Avoid False or Misleading Law Marketing
This may seem obvious. Why would you be able to post something false or misleading? Marketing can become misleading with how many businesses in other industries purposely mislead consumers to gain business. Many other industries do not have rules or strong punishments, so the law industry in Pennsylvania has Rule 7.1.
Rule 7.1 says that you cannot make truthful statements that may be misleading to the public, let alone outright lies. If someone can prove that there is a substantial probability that someone could think your marketing is misleading, you can be in legal trouble yourself.
You Are Not an “Expert” or “Specialist”
Due to the use of terms like “expert” or “specialist” in legal proceedings, an attorney cannot say they are “experts” or “specialists” at all in their marketing materials, their websites, or in any spoken marketing. Not even in a marketing speech can you say you are an expert.
There are some exceptions where you can, but only in highly specific circumstances where it’s easier to say something else. These instances include:
- After you have been certified by an organization approved by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
- If you have an admiralty practice.
- If you have been admitted to perform patent practice by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
- After you have been granted certification by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and your language is not false or misleading.
Restrictions on Testimonials
Testimonials are important to proving your track record as an attorney, and you must have them on your website to succeed. Rule 7.1 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct simply has rules on how you do that.
You cannot display your previous cases and their outcomes as if someone who would hire you would get the same results. There is no way to confirm that as a possibility. The use of disclaimers is recommended and stating the empirical results as plainly as possible will also protect you from committing any Rule 7.1 violations.
Get Help Abiding by the Law Marketing Rules of Pennsylvania
Following these guidelines is not easy. As any attorney knows, the fine print is everything, and a marketing team with experience in legal marketing also knows that. When you can’t do all the marketing yourself as you operate as an attorney, you can get help.
The team at ENX2 Marketing has a wide range of experience abiding by the law marketing rules across the country, not just Pennsylvania. If you need help with your law marketing strategies in our home state or any other, contact us today.