On just about every lawyer’s website, you will find a blog attached to it. Your law firm blog is a great way to showcase your knowledge and experience and even boast and brag a bit – or a lot – about your successes. Regardless of what you publish on your blog, it is a means of communication with colleagues and the public, and, most importantly, marketing to potential clients.
What you cannot do, however, is publish “misleading information” on your blog. That is a provision the American Bar Association (ABA) has stipulated. Law websites provide a wide variety of information to the general public, from explaining the value of legal services to detailing laws or introducing legal institutions. On the other end of the spectrum, legal websites are marketing tools that work 24-7 for the attorneys who provide services to clients and they even provide a link between those who need legal services to an attorney who might be able to take on their case.
ABA Model Rule 7.1 notes that attorneys can offer accurate legal information, as long as it does not mislead reasonable readers. So, what constitutes “misleading information?”
Rewrite or Delete Outdated & Inaccurate Information
Things change quickly in today’s world. In order to avoid violating the American Bar Association’s rules, you need to check your website every few months to ensure that everything is accurate. Also, it is important to check that nothing you have stated on your website – or your blog, if you have a blog attached to your website – is outdated. Anything that is outdated could very well be inaccurate, too.
Include Qualifying Statements or Disclaimers
There is a possibility that a statement on your website could mislead a prospective client or create an unjustified expectation. If that is true, you should include either a qualifying statement or a disclaimer that explains what the statement means – or does not mean – to prospective clients. While it is difficult to draw a distinct line between legal advice and legal information, it is your responsibility to make sure the context of the information leans toward legal information, and disclaimers and qualifying statements are clearly written and easily found, as well.
One way to differentiate between legal advice and legal information is to think in general terms. Attorneys who answer general questions that are geared toward general groups of people are typically characterized as providing “legal information.” If you are answering questions that include specific facts about cases or individual circumstances, you would most likely be considered as offering “legal advice.”
If you come up with a hypothetical legal question and answer it on your website, this would typically be considered “legal information.” To ensure that potential clients are not misled, however, you would want to include a disclaimer or qualifying statement that tells anyone who is reading your answer to the hypothetical case question that the information you are providing is general and warn them that it should not be regarded as personal legal advice.
At Law Blog Writers, we have been writing for legal websites for nearly a decade now. We keep abreast of the rules that the American Bar Association put forth and help to protect your best interests while providing you with top-notch legal content for your website. Contact us today to discuss your website content needs.