What lawyers need to know about advertising

Lawyers have an exciting history with advertising. From being banned from advertising altogether to winning a Supreme Court case that removed most restrictions on attorney advertising, it has undoubtedly had its ups and downs.

Although advertising is a necessary part of marketing legal services, very few lawyers learn about attorney marketing in law school. However, if you want your law practice to grow, you’ll need to learn some valuable marketing skills.

Aside from knowing how to advertise your law practice, you must be aware of lawyer advertising rules of professional conduct to ensure you don’t inadvertently break one.

Keep your law practice legal and use the following list to discover what lawyers need to know about advertising.

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Is it unethical for a lawyer to advertise?

There was a time when lawyers had no restrictions on how or where they could advertise their legal services. Giant billboards and newspaper ads could make grandiose claims that oversold a lawyer’s abilities.

Then in 1908, all attorney advertising was deemed unethical and banned. Lawyers eventually won back the right to advertise thanks to Supreme Court cases, such as Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.

Legal advertising is not unethical, but lawyers must still conduct themselves with professional responsibility and the code of ethics in their governing state. Certain states, such as California, New York and Florida, have specific rules regulating lawyer advertising.

What is the best form of advertisement for a lawyer?

Over the last decade, advertising has been trending away from Yellow Pages, billboards and bus benches. Digital marketing has replaced these traditional forms of attorney advertising, especially since the pandemic.

Almost 60% of Americans now use the Internet to search for legal advice. Yet, only about 35% of lawyers use online marketing strategies. Take advantage of these statistics and get ahead of the competition with lawyer advertising channels that work.

What digital advertising methods do lawyers most commonly use?

With the evolution of marketing from print to online advertising, lawyers need to embrace digital marketing as a form of lawyer advertising.

Your potential clients are online, and it’s imperative to be everywhere they are.

In-person and print advertising still have their place, but digital marketing strategies are the best ways to advertise legal services in today’s world.

Law firm website

A website is an absolute must for legal marketing. The entire world is online, including your next new client. If you don’t have a website for your law practice, you’re missing out on the largest piece of advertising real estate available to you.

It’s not enough to publish a one-page website and call it a day. Legal marketing is changing, and lawyers must design websites that appeal to their clients. Your website doesn’t need intense legal talk or blue suits to be effective.

Prospective clients want to know that you’re competent, but they also want to know you’re human. Design a website that shows you care and can empathize with what your clients might be going through. Include a live web chat so visitors can ask questions in real time.

If your website needs a refresh, Broadly’s website designers can build a customized website for your law firm at a reasonable rate.

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising

Pay-per-click advertising is one of the most common forms of paid legal advertising. They are relatively easy to set up on search engine giant Google and within Facebook Ads Manager.

Before you get started with PPC ads, you must create a client persona and perform keyword research. You’ll need both to run successful PPC campaigns. When you know exactly who should see your ads and what keywords work best, you’ll save money, as your ads will only show up for people explicitly looking for what you offer.

The best part is you only pay for PPC ads when someone clicks on your ad. This makes them budget-friendly and a great way to find qualified leads. If you take the time to set up high-quality PPC ads, you’ll get great mileage out of them.

Pay-per-lead (PPL) advertising

Pay-per-lead (PPL) advertising is like PPC advertising. As the name implies, with PPL ads, you pay after you receive a new lead or list of prospective clients.

Several lead generation sites, such as Avvo and Lawyers.com, cater specifically to lawyer advertising. Setting up a profile and generating qualified leads in your area is simple. These sites can be lucrative, as they’ve done the work to attract millions of monthly viewers.

LinkedIn is also a great place to run PPL ads. It’s viewed as a professional networking platform, and you can target prospective clients based on their industry, job or company.

Content marketing

Content marketing may seem out of place in this list. However, it’s a highly effective way to advertise your legal services. It can help you connect with potential clients without feeling like a solicitation.

Creating content is an excellent way to show off your area of expertise and communicate to your potential clients that you care about helping them. The more valuable content you can create and put out on the web, the greater the chance a prospective client will come across something while searching for legal advice.

Content marketing comes in many forms, but some of the most common include:

  • Infographics
  • Blogging
  • Webinars
  • Social media posts
  • Videos

A well-planned blog is an excellent addition to your website and can help improve search engine ranking — the more often your content shows up on page one of Google search results, the better.

Content marketing might have costs associated with creating the content if you hire help, but once it’s on the Internet, it circulates for free forever.

When did it become legal for lawyers to advertise?

Although lawyers were banned from advertising in 1908 by The American Bar Association (ABA), the Supreme Court ruled in Valentine v. Chrestensen (1942) that this violated their First Amendment rights.

Nowadays, lawyers are legally allowed to advertise their services through any platform, including online advertising channels like social media and Google Ads.

While this is great news, the ABA and state bar associations still heavily regulate lawyer advertising. They have placed some limitations on it to protect the general public from misleading, coercive or deceptive ads.

To comply with the rules of professional conduct, avoid the following tactics in your legal ads.

  • Don’t use any fake law firms or lawyer names in your ads
  • Understand the difference between advertising and direct solicitation
  • Only advertise for legal services in your practice area
  • Avoid overly inflated statements like “the best lawyer” or “the cheapest lawyer”
  • Don’t promise results you can’t guarantee
  • Use genuine testimonials from actual clients, and skip the celebrity endorsements — sorry, Brad Pitt!

Always follow the lawyer advertising rules of conduct in your local jurisdiction, as they vary by state. Most importantly, be ethical and honest in all of your legal advertisements.

Grow your law firm with Broadly

Digital marketing has opened up new opportunities for law firms to advertise their legal services.

But when you’re busy serving clients, there’s little time to learn about everything and manage your digital marketing strategy. The beautiful thing about online marketing is that tools are available to help you manage your portfolio and grow your practice.

Advertising doesn’t need to take up all your time. Broadly offers marketing solutions to streamline your online attorney advertising and generate new leads for your law firm.

From an industry-specific website to a centralized dashboard where you can track your metrics, Broadly has your law firm’s marketing needs covered.

Watch your online reputation transform with Broadly