It’s obvious that to be successful, a personal injury law firm has to advertise. That said, what words will ring false on the ears of prospective clients or get you in trouble with your State Bar?
A lot of personal injury advertisements (billboards, TV ads, radio and more) use particular words that might violate the rules of professional conduct. That’s why it is very important to choose your words carefully, those that are not filled with hyperbole or those making extraordinary claims about what you can do for people.
Following the Rules of Professional Conduct in legal marketing
Every attorney admitted into their State Bar promises to follow their state’s Rules of Professional Conduct as set forth by the American Bar Association. As such, there are certain words that if you use in your marketing materials, could land you in ethical trouble.
Words not to use!
There are certain words that you should never use in your marketing material because they offer something you can’t substantiate.
- Specialty/Specialize/Specialist: Although it seems a bit counter-intuitive, just because you “specialize” in a field like personal injury law, does not really make you a specialist. A specialist is someone who is highly skilled in a specific field. Well, some lawyers who focus on a specific field may not be very skilled. It may seem a bit like wordplay, but it very important that you use the term “focus,” instead of specialize to ensure that your clients and potential clients are provided a rock solid term.
- Expert: Don’t use the term “expert” for much the same reasons that you shouldn’t say you specialize in a particular field of law. You just can’t substantiate it. It also opens you up to possible malpractice action, if you claimed to be an expert and lose a case.
- Best: The word “best” is another word that can’t be proven. Do you know every other personal injury lawyer in the country and their professional value so that you can conclude you are the very best? Doubtful.
- Guarantee: The worst thing an attorney can say to a client or potential client is that they guarantee their results. Even if you did everything right, there is no legal proceeding where there is a guaranteed outcome. You simply cannot make that promise.
Other words to be wary of using in your personal injury marketing strategy
There are a few other words that you need to be careful of using without qualifiers in your personal injury marketing strategy.
- Obtain/Get: If you say your personal injury law firm promises to “get what you deserve” in a case, you can’t quantify what that means. In addition, if your client ends up getting less than what he or she thinks she should get, you have damaged your reputation. If you do use these words, qualify them by saying you will do your very best to try and obtain/get just compensation.
- Results: Perhaps the very worst thing a personal injury lawyer could say in an advertisement is “We guarantee results!” or “We get results!” You may get results, but they may not be good ones. You can talk about a history of positive results, but stay away from any claim that could come back and shoot you in the foot.
Whenever you are creating the words you want to use in your marketing strategy, always make sure that they comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct. Doing this will not only keep you out of trouble with your State Bar, but staying away from unsubstantiated claims will also show that your firm is credible and reputable.
We specialize in personal injury attorney firm marketing and know all the ins and outs of proper usage. If you need help creating your advertising campaign, just give us a call at Group Matrix. Our staff of experienced professionals has the knowledge to increase the visibility and reputation of your law office.
Group Matrix Blog – July 3, 2018 – by Sharon Bowles