I work in digital marketing and for the past five years, I have helped attorneys across the country strengthen their online presence. Not only are these practices potentially unethical, but they can be incredibly frustrating to the attorneys who abide by the rules of professional conduct. In this post, I will take a look at the California State Bar rules for advertising and solicitation and compare it to my experiences with law firm marketing practices. A solicitation shall not be made by or on behalf of a member or law firm to a prospective client with whom the member or law firm has no family or prior professional relationship, unless the solicitation is protected from abridgment by the Constitution of the United States or by the Constitution of the State of California. To me, this rule suggests that attorneys, law firms, and law firm members cannot directly solicit work from potential clients unless they have a preexisting relationship with the potential client. Off the top of my head, I can think of one very good reason why this is a rule attorneys must follow. 1-400(D)(1) and 1-400(D)(2) present some challenges for attorneys who market themselves online. As for 1-400(D)(5), we should be happy that we don’t see too many violations of this rule online. Turning to 1-400(D)(6), I think that some attorneys are standing a bit too close to the edge on this one. 1-400(E) covers how the Board of Governors of the State Bar might update these rules from time to time. 1-400(F) provides that attorneys are required to save all electronic communications for at least two years and must provide the State Bar with a copy at their request. These results do not guarantee the outcome of your case, but they show our ability to produce them in a variety of cases. Similar to the first standard, this rule shows how important online disclaimers can be for attorneys. Basically, this standard indicates that a firm or its members should not imply a relationship between the firm and a government agency or non-profit legal services organization. The seventh standard is similar to the sixth in that it indicates lawyers cannot pretend to be associated with another law firm or owner unless they actually are. Again, attorneys can’t misrepresent themselves as being counsel for or helping another attorney or law firm unless they are actually doing that. I have some research to do on this one, particular because I’m interested in lawyer referral services. Any advertisement made to the general public must show the name of the lawyer responsible for the communication.
Attorneys who are creating a dramatization or recreation of a case need to include a disclaimer modeled on the standard above.
Attorneys should not imply they can provide legal services in another language unless they can actually do so.

My understanding of this standard is that if advertising material is sent to the general public with a fee structure or promise with respect to fees, the lawyer must adhere to those fees. I have seen a lot of questionable (and even very shady) marketing efforts by lawyers on the web.
This post contains my thoughts about the California Rules of Professional Conduct as they relate to online marketing, and is for informational purposes only. If you conduct a Google search for [city name + personal injury lawyer], you get a list of localized results for attorneys in that area. Without question, attorneys who are using threats, intimidation, or coercion in their communications with the public should be subject to disciplinary action.
This organization is a popular one that offers a trust signal many attorneys display proudly on their websites.
Every year we win numerous significant results and many millions of dollars for our clients. If an attorney is using past results as part of their marketing efforts, they need to make it clear that past results have no outcome on new clients’ cases.
Even though this was written back in 1989, it seems like it would address more modern situations such as a lawyer sending a text message or email to an accident victim in the hospital. This is pretty much common sense, but you know they had to make it regulation for a reason. You have to represent yourself honestly are cannot make up a new designation to appear more qualified. However, this standard appears to have been implemented to rule out false advertising where attorneys might say they’re a member of a state-certified referral service when in fact they are not. When the communication is made on behalf of a law firm, the communication shall state the name of at least one member responsible for it. If you’re advertising as a firm, at least one member must have their name the communication.
Thankfully, most attorneys who create testimonial videos for their websites seem to use legitimate clients.
One problem I see on various websites is law firms advertising that they speak other languages when it is not the attorneys, but rather the legal secretaries, who can speak other languages. Since this standard refers to the actual state bar member, it would seem that that practice is not acceptable. They cannot be higher within a period of 90 days from when it was sent out unless the advertisement has its own clearly-published expiration date.
In some cases, it appears that lawyers are not adhering to the rules of advertising and solicitation enforced by their state bar association.
This brings to mind a particularly ridiculous scene from the movie The Dictator, where Sacha Baron Cohen’s character is competing in a race. This term was coined to describe personal injury attorneys who would literally follow ambulances transporting car accident victims to emergency rooms, where they would then slip the recuperating victim their business card.

To me, this means that if an attorney engages in any of the following practices, he or she is presumed to have violated the Rules of Professional Conduct.
Attorneys should look into the ethical implications of content on third-party review carefully.
However, if this information is published in the Yellow Pages or somewhere where it’s published only once a year, the attorney will have to honor the fees for a full year unless its clearly stated otherwise in the advertisement. It was so big a problem that California now sends investigators to prominent disaster scenes in hopes of preventing this practice. A Los Angeles personal injury attorney may have website content that suggests they practice in Riverside (which was then crawled and indexed by Google), even though that is not entirely true.
Granted, this merely suggests that he did not use the Avvo metric in making this assessment.
I can’t find any direct evidence to suggest that this organization is accredited by the California State Bar in any way, which would seem to violate Rule 1-400(D)(6). Many attorneys are happy to post about the millions of dollars they have won for their clients, but there usually needs to be a strong disclaimer that these types of results are not guaranteed. They have a website that does not clearly show any association with a law firm or attorneys.
Most of these proclamations are so poorly-worded that I would argue they are not within this standard. He's been pushing for an assignment on the island for personal reasons, but before long he wonders whether he hasn't been brought there as part of a twisted plot by hospital doctors whose radical treatments range from unethical to illegal to downright sinister.Teddy's shrewd investigating skills soon provide a promising lead, but the hospital refuses him access to records he suspects would break the case wide open.
By representing themselves online as practicing law in Riverside, have they violated Rule 1-400(D)(1)? My point is that it’s hard to win a race when your competitors are cheating to get ahead. In my opinion, if an attorney does not have an office or meeting location in a given city, stating that they practice there is unethical.
There he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch, while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity.

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