Best Practice Ethics for Your Law Firm Online Marketing

Every so often I have a legal client come to me and tell me about an epic disaster that a previous content writer caused either unintentionally or knowingly. The law is filled with plenty of potential pitfalls when it comes to ethics and that definitely holds true on your blog as well.

Although written material on your blog can help to draw in prospective clients and serve as a consistent source of lead generation, it’s also a place where it becomes all too simple to have something blown out of proportion or misunderstood. What follows are several of the most important takeaways and avoidable mistakes I have seen in the last several years of law firm content marketing.

Avoid Giving Specific Case Outcomes Without Genericizing Them

Of course, you'll want to be able to share the news about that most recent case where you closed a multi-million dollar settlement or returned a jury verdict in favor of your client. But try to shy away from providing too many specifics. This is never more important than it is in criminal law.

Talking in general terms makes it clear that you have the potential to provide great results and show your knowledge in the field without disclosing any of the personal information around the case. In some situations, your clients might not be concerned about you sharing these details, but in others, it’s better to be vague.

An example could be, "$5 million verdict recovered from truck driver and employer company in pedestrian accident". That gives enough information about your results without detailing too many specifics that might make anyone involved in the case uncomfortable.

Using the Terms Specialist and Best

Many state bars specifically prohibit or will come down with a heavy hand if you use the terminology "best" or "specialist". The specialist term usually can only be used if you have received a specific designation from your state bar as a specialist. Otherwise, these terms cause serious problems on your blog and could lead to nasty letters from the state bar.

I have had multiple clients who have had to audit their entire site after realizing that they had some of these materials on their website. Of course, you can still hint that you are an experienced and knowledgeable attorney without using these terms specifically.

Rather stating specialist, for example, a content writer might use the fact that you have been practicing in this field for 10 years to illustrate the same concept. These might seem like minor issues, but they can be very important for the protection of your blog.

Stolen Pictures

Free image sites abound on the internet, but unfortunately, many writers can’t tell the difference between something that's licensed for commercial use or don’t read the fine terms and conditions over an image that is allegedly "free".

If a photographer claims that they own the picture that has been shared on your website, particularly, if it belongs to a place like Getty Images, you can expect a takedown letter in your law office sooner rather than later.

This can threaten the integrity of your entire site and cause additional time and energy wasted in trying to resolve these issues that all could have been avoided in the first place.

Make sure that when you partner with an experienced legal content writer that he or she is familiar with how to source and use properly licensed images for commercial purposes. You want to know that your site is protected from ethical and legal issues all around and these are some of the most common ways that attorneys or content writers working for lawyers make mistakes. Make sure that you thoroughly vet your legal content writer before hiring him or her.