The new Florida Bar rules targeting lawyers and lawyer firms in Florida went into effect since May 1, 2013, their objective being the one of better informing the customer. As a result of these rules, lawyers based in this state no longer have the right to advertise their firm/company/services on the internet without providing a full contact name as well as the name of the city in which the company has its headquarters.
Additionally, the new rules state that lawyer firms can no longer make safe assumptions about certain cases in their articles/websites. For instance, one cannot say something like “I will achieve this result” because it’s considered a ready-made assumption. On the other hand, something like “Our firm’s objective is to help you obtain best possible result” is acceptable, since a clear assumption is not being made.
These rules have been questioned by some groups/firms of lawyers. For instance, a lawyer business in Tallahassee filled up a court action few months ago stating that the new rules are too vague and general to apply in the real world. In addition, they believe that the making of these rules leads to a violation of the free speech right as granted by constitution.
The firm claims that even Abraham Lincoln would be suitable for punishment according to the new rules as back in 1852 when the Internet did not exist he made an assumption that his business would handle every case with “promptness and fidelity”. This fact cannot be demonstrated by regular means.
The website of the company who intended the lawsuit says that the firm has 32 years experience in handling “mass” cases, which lead to justice being made for clients in “a variety of circumstances”. Furthermore, they state that their business is one of the few ones out there to successfully represented the victims of herb-based supplements. This statement is considered vague by the new rules in legislation and makes the company apt for a hefty fine.
The lawyers who work at that firm believe this action is unfair as a person’s/company’s website is a private property, unlike the other media channels such as TV, radio or newspaper. Furthermore, they state in their defense that a website can provide much more information to customers than a simple television or radio advertisement could, hence enabling owners to state more information about the services offered and the clients which were already successfully represented in the court.
More and more Florida law firms are finding themselves getting very vague in their advertisements which make it harder to stand out in the over crowded market.
With this being said, the new rules do not deny law firms to provide customer testimonials in their websites, as long as they provide a sub-note saying that “These results may not coincide to the ones of prospective clients”.
Whether or not these new Florida bar regulations are strict or not remains to everyone’s opinion, but they certainly benefit consumers to a certain extent. This happens as readers will always be able to see who the person making statements is and will be better informed over the past results of the company.