Friday, September 29, 2006

Is a Legal Blog Advertising?

Well, some people think so. There is a proposal out there from New York's Administrative Board of Courts, that "computer-accessed communications, " which includes blogs, be included in the definition of legal advertising. If this proposal is adopted, legal blogs would have to adhere to the state code of professional responsibility.

Included in the proposal are the following:

  • all emails from a law firm must have LEGAL ADVERTISING in the subject line;
  • law firms would not use pop up advertising, meta tags or other hidden computer codes;
  • testimonials or endorsements about a particular attorney or law firm from a current client would be prohibited.
  • no use of nicknames, monikers, mottos or trade names that imply an ability to obtain results in a matter

Wow!!! Having just spend almost a full day on redesigning our virtual presence and considering our target audience and communication goals, this proposals seems like a road bump.

As more and more of us are turning to the internet as a tool for direct dispute resolution work and to market services, is this proposal a sign of things to come?

If I couldn't have a motto that implied results or impact, would the average member of the public even think to use me given the lack of knowledge about our field?

What if one of my repeat clients has the legitimacy to endorse mediation as a process and me as a provider to the larger public, could I not include them in advertisement/brochure?

Although New York Center is a not-for-profit entity providing mediation, not legal, services like attorneys, staff and pro bono mediators subscribe to a code of conduct that includes ethical advertising as well as promotion of the field.

For example, Standard 7in Standards for Conduct of New York State Community Dispute Resolution Centers about Advertising and Solicitation comments that a mediator shall not list names of clients without their permission. Standard 7 of the Model Standards adopted by the ABA, AAA, & ACR has similar guidelines. NYSDRA's tandard on Advertising also comments on the ability to talk about the potential benefits of mediation. All three documents mention that no guarantee as to the outcome of a mediation can be made. Tough Questions without many immediate answers.


Update October 2, 2006 - Would you consider this earlier post advertising?

Mediation is a hugely untapped industry

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