Sadly, many law firm websites contain information that is prohibited by the lawyer advertising rules, such as testimonials or endorsements from clients and others, past results of the law firm, and statements characterizing the quality of legal services (for example, the firm offers high quality legal services, or excellent legal services).
Using Past Results to Characterize Quality of Services Provided
Testimonials and endorsements, past results, and statements characterizing the quality of legal services may be included in a section of a law firm website if the information provided is truthful and not misleading. If testimonials or past results are provided, sufficient information about the matter also must be provided to allow the consumer to evaluate the testimonials or results. Testimonials and past results may be included only with the informed consent of the client to which the matter relates (see Rule 4-1.6(a), Rules Regulating The Florida Bar). In order to be considered information that is given at the request of a prospective client, the information must be accessible only after viewing a disclaimer page and making an affirmative acceptance that the viewer has received the disclaimers provided.
Can a Lawyer Honestly Guarantee an Outcome?
Unfortunately many lawyers fail to follow these simple rules to gain an edge in the ultra-competitive world of internet marketing. A common ploy in criminal and traffic cases is to categorize a case result as a “win”, “victory”, or “reduction” when a charge is simply amended, or the plea offer includes a withhold of adjudication. For the unknowing consumer, these results seem great, but they are very misleading. Additionally, some law firm websites actually go as far as guaranteeing a certain outcome. Although guarantees are allowed in the limited scope of civil traffic citations, the reality is that there is no possible way to honestly guarantee an outcome.
Internet Research & Common Sense
Do your homework when hiring a lawyer. It is an extremely important decision that can impact the rest of your life. Accordingly, it should not be based solely on the firm website’s Google ranking or unrealistic victories or guarantees. Internet research is a great tool that can provide those seeking to hire a lawyer with useful information; however, it should not be used as a replacement for common sense and good judgment.