ABA Updates Rules on Lawyer Advertising & Refferals

Over the years, attorney marketing has made its way into the digital world, encompassing social media, review websites and more. These “newer” platforms have made it a confusing era when it comes to deciding what is ethical or not for attorney marketing and referral business.

In August, the American Bar Association (ABA) held its Annual Meeting in Chicago. During the meeting, proposals were submitted in regards to attorney advertising and business solicitation. Following the meeting, the ABA House of Delegates voted to adopt proposed changes to its model rules of professional responsibility, which state bar associations use as guidance.

Regarding attorney marketing, the ABA states the updates would, “combine provisions concerning misleading statements into a single section of the model ethics rules and would provide further guidance on what lawyers might be restricted from saying in an advertisement or other communication.”

Additionally, when it comes to referral payments, the ABA tweaked the model rules allowing an exception that would permit nominal “thank you” gifts for referral business, “that are neither intended nor reasonably expected to be a form of compensation for recommending a lawyer’s services.”

While we’re happy to hear the ABA is making changes and clarifying what’s ethical in attorney marketing, it’s interesting to hear the buzz in the industry about the adoption of these changes. Many feel the ABA is still far behind in social media and are not addressing concerns with attorneys who use LinkedInto market themselves.

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