The Florida Supreme Court recently enforced some strict advertising rules when it comes to attorneys promoting themselves via Web sites, legal profiles, blogs, social media tools, billboards, ads, etc. The most recent ruling on November 19th states that lawyer Web sites may not:
• Make statements that characterize the quality of legal services being offered;
• Provide information regarding past results;
• Include testimonials.
The Florida Supreme Court says the purpose of these new rules is to protect consumers from misleading information, provide them with accurate and helpful information in the selection of a lawyer, and respect lawyers’ abilities to provide information about themselves to the public. They contend that these new rules benefit the consumer and protect the practice of law.
However, many attorneys are arguing that it’s their first amendment right to engage in truthful advertising on the Internet. For example, publishing their successful verdicts/settlements and positive client reviews on their firm’s Web site.
One of the negative implications for consumers is that it levels the playing field of all Florida law firms, no longer allowing the “best firms” to showcase impressive verdicts and settlements received on behalf of their clients. This in turn will make it more difficult for consumers to make informed decisions on legal representation.
Also, these new laws have the potential of putting Florida law firms at a competitive disadvantage with other law firms nationwide. Attorneys practicing in other states are not as restricted with the content placed on their Web sites, blogs and social media tools. These rules are scheduled to take effect January 1st, 2010.
To keep up to date on the latest attorney advertising rules in the State of Florida visit the Florida Bar at www.floridabar.org. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. Web site at www.miamibankruptcy.info/. If you have any questions about this topic, please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100.