Saturday, July 10, 2010

Florida Bar Internet Advertising Rules Spark Criticism

Florida lawyers face increased regulation on website advertising, as previously reported. The new rules, originally scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2010, were recently delayed by action of The Florida Supreme Court.

At the heart of the matter is a new requirement that certain law firm information, such as testimonials and references to past results, can only be accessible "on request" on a law firm's web site. A law firm wishing to display this data must require a site visitor to take an affirmative action, such as clicking on a button after reading a disclaimer, before accessing a web page with testimonials or certain other performance data. The web page containing this data must be hidden from the search engines, meaning that the page is only accessible through the disclaimer page.

Large Florida law firms are becoming more vocal in their opposition to this law firm advertising rule, according to an article by Julie Kay titled "Florida Law Firms Protest Bar's Online Ad Rules," published in the July 12, 2010 issue of the Daily Business Review.

Read The Florida Bar News article here titled "Court Delays Enforcement of Atorney Website Rules" also for more information.

Out of state attorneys should pay attention as well, since The Florida Bar's attorney advertising rules apply broadly to "lawyers admitted to practice law in Florida who solicit or advertise for legal employment in Florida or who target solicitations or advertisements for legal employment at Florida residents." (Rule 4-7.1(b))

This Rainmaking Lady respects discussion on Florida web site rules, while noting that legal marketing opportunities on the Internet have grown geometrically via Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and other social media sites in the years that this evaluation has been in progress. The effort to regulate online communications may only become more complicated.

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