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ABA Ethics Rule Changes to Online Marketing for Lawyers

The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct have been amended to include language that covers the ethics of using online marketing techniques

In a recent article on the ABA Journal by Debra Cassens Weiss, she covers the changes:

A change in wording to Model Rule 1.18 on duties to prospective clients is intended to make clear that the rule may apply even in the absence of an oral discussion. According to new commentary, duties may arise if a lawyer invites the prospective client to submit information about possible representation without sufficient warnings or cautionary statements.

A comment to Rule 7.2 says lawyers may pay for “lead generation” services, including Internet-based client leads, as long as certain safeguards are followed. According to the comment, the lead generator should not vouch for the lawyer’s credentials or abilities, nor should it create the impression that it is making the referral without pa

yment, or has determined the appropriate lawyer based on an analysis of the possible client’s legal problems. A report to the House of Delegates says the change is intended to address new marketing methods such as those provided by Legal Match, Total Attorneys, Groupon, and Martindale-Hubbell’s Lawyers.com.

Amendments to Rule 7.3 governing solicitation of clients clarify when a lawyer’s online communications are solicitations. According to new commentary, a lawyer’s communications constitute a solicitation when the lawyer offers to provide, or can be reasonably understood to be offering to provide, legal services to a specific person.

More on the topic from Barbara Grzincic at The Daily Record.

 

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