Legal advertising

Legal advertising

Legal advertising is marketing by law firms and attorneys.

Marketing and advertising by lawyers in the United States

There is no standard definition of what constitutes legal advertising. [There is no definition for it in Ballentine's Law Dictionary, nor at a search on]

Legal marketing is broader than advertising, as it also includes client relations and public relations.fact|date=January 2008

Legal marketing has reached new levels with the addition of online marketing. Internet legal marketing allows attorneys and law firms to reach prospective clients far beyond the reach of traditional marketing or networking activities. Online marketing allows you to network with people you would not come into direct contact otherwise. [ [ Law Promo] Legal Marketing & Advertising Online]

Certain marketing practices, such as barratry, [Barratry is the illegal solicitation of potential clients.] also called "ambulance chasing", are considered illegal and unethical. Likewise, the use of bloody accident scenes to advertise a law firm would be considered Shockvertising.

"Bates v. Arizona State Bar"

The birth of law firm marketing in the United States coincided with the 1977 Supreme Court decision in the case of "Bates v. Arizona State Bar". ["Bates v. Arizona State Bar", 433 U.S. 350 (1977).] The American Bar Association (A.B.A.) commemorated that case's 30th anniversary with a continuing education conference about legal marketing. [ [ Press release about the ASBA conference.] ]

New York and Florida proposals

New York and Florida court systems proposed several restrictions on advertising in 2006 and 2007. [ article from June 15, 2006 New York Law Journal (N.Y.L.J.) article on NY proposals by John Caher: [] ] The N.Y. proposals, in particular, generated much controversy. [See, e.g., this blog for more information: [] ] In 2005, New York State Bar Association President Vincent Buzard appointed a Task Force on Lawyer Advertising, chaired by Bernice K. Leber, to make proposals for consideration by NYSBA and the New York courts. [Andrew Rush, "U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional," "State Bar News", September/October 2007, p. 4.]

The new rules for New York were effective on February 1, 2007. [For the full rules, see: [] .] For the first time, the New York Legal system defined legal advertising, as:
"any public or private communication made on or behalf of a lawyer or law firm about that lawyer or law firm's services, the primary purpose of which is for the retention of the lawyer or law firm." [11 New York Code of Rules and Regulations (N.Y.C.R.R.) part 1200, section 1200.1 (k), found at [] (requires Acrobat-TM reader).] The new rule specifically exempts communications to existing clients or other lawyers. [Id.] Publicity is, for the first time, also included as a synonym of advertising. [11 N.Y.C.R.R. part 1200, section 1200.6, also known as the Code of Professional Responsibility, Disciplinary Rule (DR) 2-101, found at: [] ] The newly revised rules now allow advertising about a lawyer's publications and "bona fide professional ratings". [Id., at DR 2-101 (b) (1).] There are certain special rules for email advertising, prohibiting spam. [Id., DR 2-101 (b).]

The 2007 rules stated that advertising must not include a number of prohibited marketing devices:
# Certain endorsements or testimonials from a former client
# Portrayal of judges
# Paid, undisclosed payment of testimonials
# Portrayal of a judge, or fictitious lawyer or law firm
# Use of actors or fictionalized persons
# Irrelevant characteristics of the lawyers
# Ads that resemble legal documents
# Certain limits on soliciting new clients for 30 days after a tort
# Certain other limits on communications with non-clients
# Use of a nickname or moniker. [DR 2-101 (c), found at [] .]

The new New York rules were challenged by Syracuse law firm Alexander and Catalano, in "Alexander v. Cahill", and United States District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin of the Northern District of New York struck down five of the rules as unconstitutional infringement of the First Amendment. [Andrew Rush, "U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional," "State Bar News", September/October 2007, p. 4.] The endorsement, portrayals, "Irrelevant characteristics", and nicknames provisions were stricken; however, the domain name limitations, 30-day solicitation, and communications rules were upheld. [Andrew Rush, "U.S. District Court: Some advertising rules unconstitutional," "State Bar News", September/October 2007, p. 4.] State Bar President Kathryn Madigan promised to work with the court system to develop new rules that will survive constitutional strict scrutiny. [ [ NYSBA Press Release] ]

The new Florida rules also may be challenged, so a wise law firm administrator, paralegal, or attorney will keep up to date on this topic. Also, not all states in the United States have the same rules, so a search should be made of that jurisdiction's particular rules. [Furthermore, an Internet search can not reveal the status of the proposed Florida rules as of April 18, 2007.]

Legal notices

Legal advertising can also, less commonly, refer to the Legal notices classified section of newspapers. [ See, e.g., North Carolina Press association web page, citing NC General Statutes sections 1-596 through 1-600: [] ] Legal notices are the advertisements seeking missing heirs, "deadbeat" parents, and potential Class action plaintiffs.fact|date=January 2008

Legal marketing internationally

In England legal marketing can be traced back to 1986 when the Law Society first permitted lawyers to advertise. [ [ Professional Services Marketing Group web site] ]

From the 1990’s other continental European jurisdictions progressively opened way for advertising: the Spanish abogado, the French avocat and the German Rechtsanwalt are among those able to freely use instruments of communication.

In Italy, the Bersani Decree of July 2nd, which converted into law in January 2007 gives lawyers the right to advertise. [ [ Legal Marketing Italia] ] [ [ Marketude web site] ]

People often confuse legal marketing with legal advertising. Advertising is only one of many tools a professional services organisation can utilise in its marketing strategy. [See Kotler, Armstrong, Brown Adam & Chandler, (1998)"Marketing" 4th edition, Pearson Education, Australia.]


External links

* [ Legal Marketing Association]
* [ Legal Marketing Magazine]
* [ Streamlined Legal - An eLawyering web marketing service]
* [ eJustice Legal Marketing]

ee also

* Advertising
* Ambulance chasing
* Barratry
* E-mail spam
* Marketing
* Publicity
* Shockvertising

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