Lawyers like protective language. Our contracts are full of legalese designed to protect us from disappointed clients or angry vendors. But what about online? Does your law blog need a disclaimer? Continue reading
Many of the lawyers I have talked to about online marketing, blogging, and social media have worried that posting information online could cross an ethical boundary and cause professional responsibility problems, especially where attorney-client confidentiality is involved. Now the American Bar Association has weighed in to set the record straight. Continue reading
Even experts can’t know everything. Whether it’s breaking news or a nuanced legal issue, you sometimes need to do some digging before your start writing your law blog post. Here are some tips to researching your blog the right (and ethical) way. Continue reading
Have you ever bought something on Amazon.com without at least glancing at the reviews? When you get a referral for a service professional from a friend, don’t you ask how they liked the work? So why would you think you should sell your professional services without the voices of your best customers? Continue reading
Lawyers are increasingly taking their marketing online, but not every state has clear professional responsibility rules governing online marketing and other communications. Find out what one ethics expert says about whether law blogs are ethical.
Are legal blogs considered advertising? What can you say online without crossing your state bar ethics rules? Are lawyers ever free of the regulatory requirements of their profession? Continue reading
How well do you know your clients? Do you understand their needs, or simply know what forms to fill out for them? In an age of digital services and social media, you can’t afford not to know your clients. Unless you get personal, you could see them, and your business walk out the virtual door. Continue reading
One of the reasons lawyers are slow to adopt web marketing is they are afraid of running afoul of state ethics committees by providing legal advice. Different people have different perspectives on this, and every state’s rules are different. But if writing articles for magazines or books is not legal advice, then it is hard to see why an online blog would be any different.
The key is that blog posts (like books) do not apply the law to any reader’s particular situation. As an author you have no way to know your reader’s circumstances. Your blogs simply offer an opinion on “the way it is.”
Where you could get in to trouble is in the comments. If you find your readers asking you specific questions in the comments it is probably better to invite them to schedule a consultation than to respond where the world can see. This protects confidentiality and your ethical obligations as an attorney. If you still feel uncomfortable, or if your state ethics rules are more stringent, you can always disable comments and simply suggest that readers call for more information.
Some lawyers also choose to build in disclaimers on their blogs. Writing a footer that says the information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, can give you further security about ethical questions.
But just because local ethics standards exist doesn’t mean you should avoid content marketing altogether. Your potential clients are looking for a reason to like you. An informational blog shows that you are knowledgeable, generous, and can communicate with your audience.