Attorney Advertising is subject to numerous rules set by the American Bar Association (ABA) and the New York State Bar Association. The New York Rules of Professional Conduct have sections that specifically address web design and online marketing.
While the New York Rules of Professional Conduct is broad in scope, our team at Web Perseverance is familiar with the particular rules that apply to web marketing. We have provided Internet marketing for many law firms during the early stages of web marketing and up to the present.
We ensure that all of the content and design for any website we create is pre-approved by the lawyer before launching the website. We have incorporated this practice into our web design based on the following New York Rules of Professional Conduct:
Under NY Rules 7.1 (k), attorneys or the law firm must pre-approve all advertisements.
Pre-approval applies to advertising in websites, blogs, chat rooms, list servers, emails, instant messaging, banner advertisements, pop-up advertisements, pop-under advertisements, search engines and other internet-related presence. [Rule 1.0(c)]
Restrictions for Factually Supported Statements
You have possibly seen attorney websites that claim to be the top in their field or tout the idea that they are better at obtaining compensation for clients than other law firms. They use superlatives like “the top,” “the most,” “the most prestigious,” or other marketing language that businesses can get away with in other industries. However this type of marketing promotion can get law firms in trouble in the legal profession.
The following rule specifically prohibits this type of advertising:
 Descriptions of characteristics of the lawyer or law firm that are not comparative and do not involve results obtained are permissible even though they cannot be factually supported. Such statements are understood to be general descriptions and not claims about quality, and would not be likely to mislead potential clients. Accordingly, a law firm could advertise that it is “Hard-Working,” “Dedicated,” or “Compassionate” without the necessity to provide factual support for such subjective claims. On the other hand, descriptions of characteristics of the law firm that compare its services with those of other law firms and that are not susceptible of being factually supported could be misleading to potential clients. Accordingly, a lawyer may not advertise that the lawyer is the “Best,” “Most Experienced,” or “Hardest Working.” Similarly, some claims that involve results obtained are not susceptible of being factually supported and could be misleading to potential clients. Accordingly, a law firm may not advertise that it will obtain “Big $$$,” “Most Money,” or “We Win Big.” (New York Rules of Professional Conduct, Page 173, section 12)
We look out for our clients’ interests and work diligently to provide marketing that is appropriate for the client’s industry. We share your objectives to promote and expand your businesses and will work closely with you to create a presence on the web that is right for your business.
Web Perseverance is an Internet marketing company that helps businesses create strategic and productive marketing on the web.
More Lawsuits Are Emerging to Pursue ADA Violations
Website accessibility based on the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) became an issue for the Beyonce website. Media outlets featured articles about it in January 2019. A blind person sued Parkwood Entertainment, Beyonce Knowle’s management company, because the site wasn’t accessible for her.
Many business owners and people in the general public don’t think this has anything to do with them. They may think, “Beyonce is a celebrity, high profile and worth millions of dollars. People like her get sued all the time because they have fame and money.”
That may be true for small business owners with few employees. However, there is a problem with this line of thinking. It often doesn’t take long before an issue like website accessibility goes mainstream. Almost every business today has a website. The ADA is federal law that affects businesses with 15 or more employees. It is a fact that the ADA accessibility issue has already gone mainstream.
Ten New York Galleries Are Defendants in Civil Lawsuits
The New York Times published an article about a blind Manhattan resident who filed federal lawsuits against 10 art galleries. He alleged that their websites were not ADA compliant for the blind. The list of galleries that were party to the lawsuit included: Adam Baumgold Fine Art, Adelson, Agora, Albertz Benda and Acquavella. After filing a lawsuit against these galleries, his attorneys started going through the alphabet, naming other galleries that began with the letter “B.”
As it stands today, numerous lawsuits filed on grounds of ADA non-compliance exist across the nation, and the numbers keep growing. The New York Times article states that ADA lawsuits against websites tripled in 2018 over those filed in 2017.
What Types of Business Are Being Sued?
The lawsuits that allege websites are ADA noncompliant name parties that go well beyond celebrities. They include: insurance companies, colleges, moving companies, sightseeing tours, yoga studios, fashion industry companies and restaurants, to name a few.
Accessibility is a serious issue. The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has an article on its website entitled “Improving Your Website’s Accessibility.” The article lists steps that a web developer should take to make the site accessible for blind people.
Are You Concerned About Website Accessibility? Is Your Website Accessible for the Disabled?
We are glad to discuss how we can make your website accessible. Contact a NY Internet marketing specialist today.
A Brief Look Back and Look Forward at Websites
It’s a fact that the world of web design and websites is ever changing. New improvements in design and technology emerge all the time.
Can you imagine growing up without being able to browse the web or carrying a cell phone with you everywhere you go?
Many of us can. But for the new generations such as iGen and Gen Z, born between 1995 and 2012, it’s unimaginable. Not having a mobile phone, not being able to jump online or text or visit a social media site is a foreign concept.
The Evolution of Web Sites and Web Design
It’s been more than 20 years since computer scientist and CERN engineer Tim Berners-Lee launched the first web page in 1990.
Today, web development has moved beyond the realm of computer science alone. Fields like graphic design and marketing have become an integral part of website development evolution.
How important is it for websites to be mobile friendly?
“Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. Historically, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query.”
Web Perseverance’s New Websites
While trends come and go, consumers want designs that reflect their company’s values. We’ve worked to make our websites unique and authentic. Here are a few recent examples:
- Restoration Dry Cleaners. The branding for the new site incorporated much happier images. We shifted the focus from damaged materials to restoration of prized possessions. By replacing fire and smoke images and damaged articles with happy people, bright and colorful wardrobes and other images, we changed the look and feel of the site. Branding shifted from “damaged” to “restored.”
- The Van De Water Law Firm and Sackstein, Sackstein & Lee, LLP websites incorporate hero images (large full width image at the top of the website). The viewer meets the attorneys at first glance. This emphasis brings a more personal experience to the viewer when visiting the website.
- Anna’s Fried Dough is another new site we launched. We worked with the client’s existing logo to bring a colorful and fun feel to the site. The company initially introduced its product through concession stands at fairs but now it offers wholesale purchase as well.
- Poseidon Irrigation grabs the viewer’s attention through its colorful logo over a sprinkler system background video with spraying water. It’s a colorful and eye-catching site where viewers receive great visuals of the product’s use.
Are you looking to boost your internet marketing? Keep up with the times and reach out to us.
Author: WebPerseverance: Cindy J. Silver