New York Attorney Advertising Rules

Dec 22, 2020

Patrick Carver

Patrick Carver
Founder, Constellation Marketing

Is your law firm fully leveraging New York’s advertising rules to its advantage?

Navigating these regulations can transform your marketing strategy, turning legal constraints into powerful tools for growth.

Imagine harnessing these rules to not only protect your license but to significantly expand your client base and revenue.

This guide demystifies New York’s attorney advertising regulations, offering clear, actionable strategies to elevate your firm’s market presence.

Ready to unlock a new level of success for your law firm? Let’s dive into the essentials of compliant and effective advertising.

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What rules govern advertisements and the like in the state of New York?

The first may seem obvious, but it needs to be said: all advertisements must be true. Legal ads cannot mislead or deceive potential clients. The same is true for solicitations, which are in-person communications. This can mean letterhead on documents, signs, or anything else consumers can see. Solicitations are subject to strict record-keeping.

According to New York Attorney Advertising Rules, an advertisement is a communication about the services a law firm offers to help them retain clients. A solicitation, on the other hand, is aimed at a target audience, and the goal is retention.

You may wonder if you are able to send written communications like articles, speeches, or updates on the law firm. They are not considered advertisements, so this is permissible. A lawyer or lawyers may compose and publish or send speeches, articles, and updates on legal topics that may be of interest to current or past clientele so long as they do not offer legal advice to individuals in such publications. Written articles, speeches, and updates may be ethically used to obtain more business. Namely, publications are a great way to remind clients to keep you in mind for their legal needs.

Attorneys may also send publications to prospective clients if they are attempting to retain clients. If the article, speech, or update is meant to go to a specific group of people, the rules of solicitations must be followed.

Advertisements, under New York Bar Guidelines, must follow certain rules. All ads must contain the following: the name of the law firm, the main firm’s address, and the main telephone number or contact information of a lawyer there. If the firm is sending out emails, they must use the phrase “Attorney Advertising” as the subject line. Unless the ad is on the radio, a billboard, on television, in a newspaper, made in person, or in a magazine, “Attorney Advertising” must be used. For example, it must appear on the homepage of a law firm’s website or any mail to be sent out to prospective and existing clients.

Just as there are things an attorney can advertise, there are things advertisements cannot include:

• A testimonial from a client whose case is pending.
• A paid endorsement from a client that does not disclose they were compensated.
• A portrayal of a fictitious law firm or a fake law firm name.
• Names of lawyers who do not work at the firm.
• The use of actors to play lawyers without disclosing the people are actors.
• Documents made to look like real documents.
• The use of hidden computer codes.

The penalties for violating the Code of Professional Conduct can be suspension or even disbarment.

Rules of Professional Conduct in New York

A brief summary of the rules attorneys in New York must follow:

• A lawyer should always maintain the integrity set forth by the legal profession.
• An attorney should fulfill the legal profession’s duty to remain available as legal counsel for all prospective and existing clientele.
• A lawyer should help to ensure that the law is practiced ethically.
• An attorney should preserve the confidence between themselves and the client as mandated by attorney/client privilege.
• A lawyer should exercise good, professional judgment for the client.
• An attorney should represent any and all clients competently and to the best of their ability.
• A lawyer should do everything in their power within the bounds of the law to represent their client.
• An attorney should help improve the legal system.
• Lawyers must avoid professional impropriety.

Digital Marketing Strategies for New York Attorneys

law digital marketing

Navigating digital marketing in compliance with New York’s strict advertising rules can seem daunting, but adopting clear, strategic approaches can enhance your visibility without breaching ethical guidelines. Firstly, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is pivotal. Optimize your website content for keywords that potential clients might use when seeking legal assistance. Importantly, ensure all claims are truthful and substantiated, aligning with the state’s demand for honesty in advertising.

Next, consider content marketing. Producing regular, informative blog posts or articles about common legal issues or updates in the law provides value to your audience. This type of content must steer clear of offering direct legal advice unless it’s framed in a general manner and should always be marked clearly if it constitutes advertising.

Lastly, social media offers a powerful platform for engagement. Use it to share your content, firm updates, and legal insights, ensuring that all posts comply with the requirements to avoid misleading information. Transparency is key; for instance, if you use client testimonials, ensure they are genuine and clearly labeled as advertising if required. Regularly updating your strategy to include diverse types of posts can maintain high engagement levels.

By integrating these strategies thoughtfully, law firms can not only abide by New York’s rigorous standards but also build a robust online presence.