Florida Bar Rules Change Effective Jan. 1, 2010: Changes in Rule 4-7.6 (Computer-Accessed Communications) Affect Web Sites, Social Networking Sites and Email Communications
Webb, Michael A., Peters, Laura Sinnott, Perret, Kim A., Strategies: The Journal of Legal Marketing
The Legal Marketing Association Southeast Chapter, in cooperation with LMA International, has established a task force to educate members about recent changes in the Florida Bar rules. Our goal is to monitor and keep membership informed of current and future changes and provide a forum for feedback and recommendation.
The Southeast Chapter will provide information on guidelines and policies and disseminate them as they are developed. The Southeast Chapter also plans to host educational phone conferences and Webinars with bar leaders in the coming weeks to increase awareness and provide opportunities to discuss changes and their impact.
This update is the first in a program of ongoing communications designed to provide LMA members with accurate and up-to-date information. It is important to note that while the rule changes are effective Jan. 1, 2010, there is a six-month moratorium on enforcement actions relating to Web sites and social networking sites while the Florida Bar prepares specific guidelines for implementing the rule changes.
In a recent ruling, Case No. SC08-1181, the Florida Supreme Court held that law firm Web sites shall be subject to the Florida Bar advertising rules, except the requirement that the sites or pages be submitted to the bar for review, effective Jan. 1, 2010. Prior to this ruling, Web sites were exempt from compliance as they were treated as material that was viewed "upon request" (given that individuals had to affirmatively choose to visit a Web site). Many items included on different attorney sites, including testimonials, statements that characterize the quality of work, or information about past results, are not permitted under the revised rules.
Subsequent to the court's ruling, the state's Standing Committee on Advertising voted that law firms could designate areas of their Web sites as "information upon request zones. …