New laws have been passed that effect Florida lawyer websites. In November 2009, the Supreme Court of Florida adopted new rules regulating websites for law firms and lawyers. “Websites commonly include information about past results, testimonials, and statements characterizing the quality of legal services, all of which would be impermissible under the new rules,” says the Florida Bar. These new lawyer advertising rules (Rule 4-7.6 Computer-Accessed Communications) prohibit the use of customer testimonials, results of past trials and laudatory statements on lawyer websites.
On June 1, 2010, the Florida Bar filed a petition to add amendments to Rule 5-7.6 that would allow a portion of websites to be exempt from the lawyer advertising rules. The Florida Bar also filed an emergency motion to request a further stay of the effective date of the amendments to Rule 4-7.6. The Court issued an order, granting the bar’s motion to stay the effective date, which has not yet been decided. At this time, the new rules on lawyer and law firm websites will not go into effect for a few months.
Lawyers should use this additional time granted by the Court to review their websites and make any changes necessary to bring them into compliance with the lawyer advertising rules. Copies of the Bar’s motions and the Court’s order, as well as information on complying with the lawyer advertising rules, are available on the Bar’s website under Advertising Rules.
The Standing Committee on Advertising will hold a meeting to be held in conjunction with the Florida Bar Annual meeting at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2010 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.