Florida Law Firm Website Ruling
FLORIDA LAW FIRM PROPOSED WEB SITE RULES SPARK ARGUMENTS FROM FLORIDA LAW FIRMS
Reported by an article inside the Florida Bar news, Eight major law firms “protested the recently proposed Supreme Court rules for web advertising from a 66-page comment into the court submitted just before the August 16 deadline.”
The firms that complained incorporated Foley & Lardner, White & Case, Holland & Knight, and Carlton Fields. Many attorneys dislike the anticipated rules, because they’d limit a law site from having online testimonials, case summaries, and certain audio and visual content.
The Florida Bar News says that these guidelines could involve entire overhauls of some firm internet sites and re-programming of others, updates that law firms alleged might cost millions of dollars for larger establishments.
Annotations were also submitted by other Florida lawyers plus the American Civil Liberties Union. One Florida lawyer said the projected rules were being too lenient. Some dispute that Florida residents surfing the internet and looking for lawful information from Florida lawyers will be drawn to the more attractive and easy to get to web pages offered by the non-Florida attorney sites, bypassing the very firms that the Bar regulates.
Website rule poses First Amendment considerations and can be a tricky issue in the Florida Bar. Following an intensive study from the Florida Bar on lawyers’ internet sites, the Florida Bar suggested towards the court that the home page of Florida law firm web sites be subject to any or all advertising rules, knowing that the remainder of Florida lawyer websites be subject with the substantive marketing rules with definite three exceptions.
Rule 4-7.6 was submitted through the Florida Bar with the Florida Supreme Court in June in the direction with the court after the court issued an order stating that all the substantive lawyer advertising rules shall be applicable to Florida Law websites. The court’s order means that lawyers online resources cannot use past results, testimonials, and statements that characterize the quality of legal services. The proposed amendments would allow testimonials, past results, and other information in separate sections on Florida law firm websites.
The Florida Supreme court abandoned that approach and ruled that Florida attorneys internet websites are subject to the overall marketing rules contained in Bar Rule 4-7.2. Rule 4-7.2 prohibits Florida Lawyers from using testimonials, concerning past consequences, or characterizing the quality of their lawful services, which can be often accessible on Florida law firm blogs.