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January 03, 2006


Sharif Abdrabbo

Larry, the answer to your question/gripe about why "Law Firm Web Sites [are] Missing Marketing Basics" can be found in the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct and the ABA's Model Code of Professional Responsibility.

These Model Rules/Code have been adopted (with some minor revision and/or addition) by all of the states. These state rules that regulate the practice of law contain guidelines and prohibitions regarding attorney communications with clients/potential clients and attorney advertising.

For example, in Ohio where I practice, Disciplinary Rule 2-101 - PUBLICITY, states in part,
“A lawyer shall not . . .use any form of public communication, including direct mail solicitation, that: Contains any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, self-laudatory, or unfair statement; . . . Contains any testimonial of past or present clients pertaining to the lawyer's capability;”

The same rule also contains a provision that states in part,
“A communication is false or misleading if it satisfies any of the following: Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading; Is likely to create an unjustified expectation about results the lawyer can achieve, or states or implies that the lawyer can achieve results by means that violate the Code of Professional Responsibility or other law; Is subjectively self-laudatory, or compares a lawyer's services with other lawyers' services, unless the comparison can be factually substantiated.”
(Note: the text of this rule has been edited for brevity)

As previously stated above, all states have adopted one of the two version’s of the ABA’s Model Rules/Code and thus have similar restrictions on attorney advertising.

That is why you generally don’t see attorney web sites that list:
1. Industry experience
2. Representative clients
3. Success stories

I hope this post answers the question for you.

Sharif Abdrabbo, Esq.


My monitor is set to 1680x1050; I do not, however, maximize my browser window. It's usually about 1000 pixels wide. Sites which stretch to fill the screen may verge on unreadable; sites which are 800 (or 760) pixels wide are fine.

Using a fixed with that is greater than 800px in width, with "extranous" content on the right such that people with lower monitor resolutions can see all of the important material, seems a bit problematic - which information is of so little import that it can be displayed where many people will have to scroll horizontally to see it? (On sites like , the answer is "ads - and lots of them". But that's probably not a lead law offices would want to follow.)


How about having the telephone number , email address and street address on EACH page?

Nathan Burke

For the most part I agree with your points, but there are a few that don't make sense to small firms:

1. Only 31% of the home pages included a link to the firm's extranet.- Many small firms do not have an extranet, and other firms do not want a link to the extranet. With firms using Citrix or other remote network products, it is not useful to have an extranet link on their site.

2. 97% of sites displayed at an 800x600 screen resolution, even though the most popular setting on people's computers is 1024x768 now.- I don't see this as a failure, but instead a necessary evil. Many designers design for 800x600 because they want to be as inclusive as possible to their visitors. While 1024 x 768 may be the most popular, it would be a mistake to ignore those using 800x600. Hopefully 800x600 will go away sooner rather than later, as it is a huge limitation (and a pain for people using large monitor resolutions)...but for now, I can understand designing for 800x600. I think that the best solution right now is to make your design flexible using CSS so the page resizes for all resolutions.

3. Flash is search engine repellent; it's a graphic that search engine spiders and bots cannot index- I wish this were true still. I agree with your opinion that nothing on a law firm site should be moving. But unfortunately saying that flash is search engine repellent is no longer true. Designers/Developers can now either:

a) implement the Macromedia Flash Search Engine SDK

b) use PHP and browser detect to serve up a neatly formatted html version of a page

c) both

So though this was once true, and one of my favorite excuses for not having flash on a law firm web site, it's no longer an excuse I can use ethically.

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