When ALI CLE asked me to present an ethics CLE on lawyer advertising, I hesitated. After all, I’ve been teaching this course across the country for more than 20 years. But the timing was right. There were hot-button issues sitting on my desk, and the equally red-hot debate over making the first substantial changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct related to law firm marketing since Bates v Arizona in 1977. So I said yes.
In the days leading up to my presentation (taped on March 23rd), there were articles in the local (Philadelphia) daily newspaper discussing geo-targeting billboards for Johnnie Cochran’s law firm (despite the fact that the famed OJ Simpson attorney passed away in 2005). There was U.S. District Judge Cynthia M. Rufe of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissing the remaining (false advertising) claims in Larry Pitt’s lawsuit against competitor Lundy Law. I discussed earlier Pitt-Lundy battles in the 2013 version of my CLE. Yet they are both news items here in 2018. Social Media has been an integral part of my CLE since flashing up my MySpace profile in 2007. While I tout Facebook as being an integral part of marketing for many attorneys, the news was also covering just how our data was being used by the likes of Cambridge Analytica—that same market data we use to generate prospective clients was also being used for evil, and not good. The news was not fake, but apparently some of the Facebook users were. And, of course, there is the debate over proposed changes to the ABA model rules (for advertising and solicitation), scheduled to go before the House of Delegates this August during the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. So if that is just what is going on in my neck of the woods, and at the national level, you can imagine what else is out there.
If you are in need of an ethics credit for continuing legal education compliance and/or your law firm markets—this is a perfect use of one hour to catch up on the latest trends and discussions related to the always-prickly subject matter of appropriate (and inappropriate) lawyer advertising and solicitation.
Between in-house CLEs at law firms and external programs for CLE providers, I probably teach courses on law marketing ethics nearly 20 times each year. Multiply that by 20 and I’ve delivered this educational program around 400 times (and that does not include watching online video replays a few thousand times more). What makes it so fascinating for me…is that I don’t think the program has stayed the same even twice in 400+ deliveries. And that is because it is as relevant a subject today as it was when I first started teaching it. Lawyers continue to do one of the things we are so good at doing—find the loopholes. State Bars continue to try and close them. Attorneys that often struggle with business development and marketing are unsure what he or she can and cannot do. This CLE identifies the key areas to be aware of, and by often telling you what you can’t do, I’m showing you what you can.
This ALI CLE hour will discuss the relevant rules, ethics opinions and court cases. We’ll cover Internet marketing, ratings and rankings, social media, solicitation, compliance and multi-jurisdictional issues. If you have any questions about the program, contact me or ALI.
Topics covered include:
- Introduction – Background of Bates v. Arizona
- Examples of Hot Topics in Law Marketing Ethics
- Web Sites and Blogs
- Social Media Issues
- Advertising Ethics Issues
- Relevant Rules of Professional Conduct
- Possible Sanctions
- Determining appropriate use of “content”
- Proposed Changes to the Model Rules
- The Race for Clients
- Solicitation Issues
- What constitutes “advertising”?
- Ratings, Rankings & Online Reviews
- States to watch out for
- Recap of law marketing ethics issues
- Diligent monitoring of law marketing compliance