There’s a lot of discussion and debate in legal marketing circles about how well state bar disciplinary rules address Web-based advertising and social media. Admittedly, new media and their accompanying usage models require new lawyer advertising rules and the evolution of existing ones. But what about relatively straightforward and seemingly settled standards like the prohibition on actors portraying attorneys? Do current rules apply to online informational videos? Is such content considered commentary or advertising? Should it be disclosed if the speaker is not an attorney?
Today I came across the website for a company called LawInfo, which offers law firms area code-based sponsorship opportunities for Web-based video content on legal topics.
One Los Angeles-based LawInfo client uses some of these third-party videos to describe the firm’s practice areas, and offers others as “informational videos.” Do the lawyer-looking narrators work for the firm? Are they even attorneys? If they’re not, should that be disclosed? Does that matter in California?
Given that advertising rules are changing, and vary state by state, it seems like this type of content marketing needs to be approached carefully and advisedly.
So, gentle readers, I need your help. Has anyone checked whether, in what state(s), and under what conditions generic third-party video on legal topics has been cleared by your state bar for use on law firm websites?
[On an unrelated topic, what’s up with the typo in the caption?]