Attorney advertising has some special rules, and language you wouldn’t think twice about in another context can create problems for our law firm clients. This document is not a comprehensive overview of attorney advertising regulations, which vary somewhat from state to state. This information is intended to help avoid some of the most common and most serious issues and is not intended to provide any legal advice. Our goal here is to help educate so that consumers can connect with law firms in a compliant manner.
1. Never use words like “expert,” “specialist,” or “specializes in” to describe attorneys or law firms.
Many states prohibit attorneys from holding themselves out as experts or specialists. Others allow the use of those terms only if the attorney has a special certification.
Instead of saying “an attorney who specializes in product liability” or “an attorney who is an expert in…” use phrases like “an attorney who handles product liability cases.”
2. Don’t use superlatives to describe the attorneys.
Attorney regulations in most states prohibit any statement that may be misleading. Many have construed statements like “the best lawyers” or “the most qualified attorney” to be potentially misleading.
3. Don’t make claims about the attorneys when you don’t have information and facts to support the claims.
A lawyer’s own website may talk about long experience or a successful track record if they can back up those claims. In the affiliate context, it’s unlikely you would have the necessary information to make those types of claims about an attorney, so it’s best to avoid descriptors entirely.
It’s generally safe to say “a qualified attorney” or “an attorney who practices product liability law” (or whatever law area is relevant), since any attorney receiving the leads would fall into those categories.
4. Don’t make any promises.
This includes both explicit and implied promises. That means not only avoiding phrases like “You are guaranteed to receive…” but also subtler versions such as “You will receive compensation” or “You are entitled to compensation.”
Instead, use language like “You may be entitled to compensation,” or “Talk to an attorney to find out whether you may be entitled to compensation.”
5. Don’t say anything that could be construed as legal advice.
The only advice appropriate to offer is to encourage the consumer to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
6. Don’t make any representations about the possible value of the claim.
It’s okay to talk generally about the type of damages that may be available, like compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost income. But always say “may be,” and be clear that every case is different. Never attach numbers, even generally.
7. Avoid any misleading statements.
The American Bar Association Model Rule says that even a true statement may be considered misleading if it is likely to lead the reader to a conclusion that can’t be supported. For example, a statement that every case of a certain type that has been tried so far has resulted in a multi-million dollar verdict could be found to be misleading on an advertising page (even if true), since a reader might assume that meant that his or her own case was likely worth millions of dollars.
Any such statements should be qualified with comments like “Of course, every case is different” or “these results aren’t necessarily representative of future outcomes.”