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A Frustrating Attempt to Find Current Lawyer Web Advertising Rules in Florida

Confused by what you can put on your law firm website, blog, Facebook or Twitter?  Who isn’t.  Here’s a primer… to the extent we could find the most current information.  If you are looking to develop a new advertisement or simply confirm your website is in compliance… good luck trying to find the rules.

As a starting place, the Florida Supreme Court is working off of proposals which began BEFORE TWITTER EVEN EXISTED.

* The good news is that there is a Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising.  Further good news is that they offer a “handbook on advertising” which is available on the web.  Too bad the link is broken.

* But we jest.  In part.  The Bar has a page regarding website advertising, including the handbook, here.

* By the way, if you want to find out information about the Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising, do a Google search for it.  Yes, you’ll get results like that, where the first page of hits includes a site from… 1996.

* What does NOT readily come up in a Google search for “Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising” is this page, with the committee member names, which you can find by meandering and aimlessly drilling down on links in the Bar website.  The page provides nothing on the Committee’s recent activity.  I was unable to find more current information (can you?).

* The Standing Committee on Advertising has an (undated) set of Guidelines for An Attorney’s Statement of Qualifications and Experience.

* November 19, 2009: Florida Supreme Court issues In Re: Amendments to the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar - Rule 4-7.6, Computer Accessed Communications. This allows lawyers to create an “upon request” section for solicited communications by potential clients to lawyers, which would then exempt the lawyer’s communication advertisement from Rule 4-7.2.  Effective date was January 1, 2010.

* The Bar petitioned an extension to the January 1, 2010 date.  In this January 1 Bar News Article, there’s no indication of the status of the request for an extension (nor is there a clear indicator in the January 15 article, below).

* After this ruling, in mid-December 2009, the Board of Governors determined that the Bar will not review attorney websites, even if voluntarily submitted but will answer calls from lawyers asking specific questions.

* On December 29, the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising issued guidelines to help lawyers meet the new rules.  Good thing the Florida Bar News’ January 15, 2010 article, “Panel Offers Guidance to Bring Lawyers’ Web Sites into Compliance” is available online with excerpts from those guidelines, since doing a Google search for the guidelines will get you nowhere.  The article is here.

* The front page of the Florida Bar site does not provide patent guidance.  The “Rules Update” page is confusing… but here it is.

* Were you thinking about joining the Standing Committee to see if you could change things?  The instructions on how to apply are here.  Were you able to find the link to the form?  (hint: hidden in the upper right corner)

If I am off the mark and missing some readily-apparent resources, someone please clue me in.

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