Fast-Mover Advantage: Law Marketing Ethics Issues in a Race for Clients

At 12:43 pm on June 27, 2022, an Amtrak train derailed in Missouri, with 200 passengers onboard, killing four. By 5 pm, there were attorney web pages geared toward crash victims and their families. By 9 am the next morning, law firms were announcing not only lawsuit filings but clients that had been retained. The days of the 30-day solicitation moratorium are gone—if not in writing, in spirit. Law firms struggle to compete in a fast-moving marketplace where the Rules of Professional Conduct vary state by state in regulations and enforcement.

Understanding the myriad of ethics issues that arise in the day-to-day workings of a law firm is more complicated than you might think. And perhaps there is no area of the business of law practice that is more complicated than compliance with concepts surrounding marketing, advertising, solicitation, and business development. What are the relevant Rules of Professional Conduct? Which state bars regulate my practice? What safeguards does your law firm take to ensure compliance with the RPC, especially Rules 7.1-7.5, and avoid a letter from the disciplinary board, or a malpractice claim from a client?

This program provides an overview of the many tools attorneys are using today for business generation, and the American Bar Association and state bar ethics opinions, court decisions, and rules that relate to areas such as digital marketing and social media, trade names, public relations, lead generation, ratings and rankings, responding to online reviews, and areas that you most likely have never considered. If you don’t think this relates to your law firm, think again...whether you are a sole practitioner or a Big Law partner, an aggressive plaintiffs’ firm, or a corporate defense practice...the ethical considerations in business development initiatives touch every law practice.

Agenda:

  • Marketing Your Firm: Bates v. Arizona
    • The difference between law firm marketing in the past and the present
    • Creative advertising and relevant ethical implications
    • How quickly law firms move to market themselves after an accident or particular situation in the news
    • An overview of modern marketing methods such as buying domain names, using social media, geofencing, and remarketing

  • PR & Content Marketing
    • A review of different law firm press releases and what purpose they serve
    • How law firms use press conferences and whether they implicate ethics issues
    • Is an attorney's blog an ad subject to attorney advertising rules?
    • When does content marketing, such as podcasting or writing a book, become subject to attorney advertising rules?

  • Attorney Advertising & The Rules of Professional Conduct
    • Ethical considerations include advertising restrictions, the attorney/client relationship, competence, confidentiality, conflicts, the unauthorized practice of law, multi-state jurisdiction, solicitation, and fee-sharing
    • Marketing ethics such as disclaimer language, testimonials and endorsements, ad approvals, ratings and rankings, and social media

  • How Are Attorney Advertising Rules Enforced?
    • Consumers, state bar disciplinary arms, and complaints by other lawyers kickstart grievances
    • Rules are enforced by state bars and courts, consumer protection laws, criminal cases, and external forces like Google
    • Potential sanctions

  • Solicitation & Ethics Issues
    • Ethics opinions on solicitation
    • Lead generators and an attorney's obligations
    • Can a lawyer buy a lead?

  • Ethics & Modern Advertising
    • Creative advertising
    • Competition from lawyers and non-lawyers
    • What rules come into play in grievances regarding attorney advertising?
    • How has attorney advertising evolved and have attorney advertising rules changed?

  • Questions & Answers
Topics covered include: Practice Skills Ethics
Duration of this webinar: 60 minutes
Originally broadcast: March 15, 2023 11:00 AM PT
Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credits

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California CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Legal Ethics

Earn Credit Until: January 16, 2025

South Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility

Difficulty: All Levels

Earn Credit Until: December 31, 2024

North Carolina CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Ethics

Earn Credit Until: February 28, 2025

Texas CLE

Status: Approved

Credits: 1.0 Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility

Earn Credit Until: January 31, 2025


This presentation is approved for one hour of Legal Ethics CLE credit in California, one hour of Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility CLE credit in South Carolina (all levels), and one hour of Ethics CLE credit in North Carolina. This course has been approved for Minimum Continuing Legal Education credit by the State Bar of Texas Committee on MCLE in the amount of 1.0 credit hours, of which 1.0 credit hours will apply to Legal Ethics/Professional Responsibility credit.

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Speaker
Micah Buchdahl
Micah Buchdahl Attorney
HTMLawyers
Micah U. Buchdahl is a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney assisting law firms with business development initiatives. Based in Moorestown, NJ, he is president of HTMLawyers, Inc., a law marketing consultancy. Micah is known for his ethics counsel as it pertains to law marketing, advertising, and compliance. He is a member of the Association of Professional Responsibility Lawyers and a past chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Division. Micah attended Temple University both as an undergraduate (B.A., journalism) and for law school (J.D., 1991).
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