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Florida Bar postpones enforcement of web rules

The Florida Bar is postponing its enforcement of the new rules governing lawyer websites. Those rules make the inclusion of past results, testimonials and “statements characterizing the quality of legal services” impermissible.

Confused about what this really means? Feel free to contact me for additional information.

June 14, 2010
Florida Bar Association

New rules on lawyer and law firm websites will not go into effect, and therefore will not be enforced by The Florida Bar at this time, under a June 10, 2010 order of the Supreme Court of Florida.  The Court granted the bar’s emergency motion to stay the effective date of amendments to the website rules.

The Court  adopted new rules regulating websites in November 2009.  Under the new rules, websites will be subject to the general advertising regulations set forth in Rule 4-7.2.  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.  However, websites will remain exempt from the filing requirement under Rule 4-7.8.  In Re: Amendments to Rules Regulating The Florida Bar – Rule 4-7.6, computer Accessed Communications,34 Fla. L. Weekly S627 (Fla. Nov. 19, 2009), Case No. SC08-1181.

At the direction of the Supreme Court of Florida, the Florida Bar filed a petition on June 1, 2010 to adopt additional amendments to Rule 4-7.6 regarding websites, Case No. SC10-1014.  The amendments, if adopted, would provide a method by which a portion of the website would be considered information at the request of a prospective client and therefore not subject to subchapter 4-7 (the lawyer advertising rules) if specific requirements are met.

The Court’s order staying the effective date of the November 2009 amendments to the website rules makes those changes effective 90 days from the Court’s order in SC10-1014, which has not yet been decided. 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 underAdvertising Rules.

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