Skunkworks works with law firms and legal institutions in BC, Alberta, and Ontario. Following my colleague’s post on BC’s legal marketing rules, we will be offering similar summaries of legal marketing rules for our clients across the country.
In this post, the focus will be legal marketing in the Province of Alberta, where professional conduct and cowboy culture collide.
In Alberta, the core rule governing the practice of legal marketing is rule 4.2-1 in the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct. The exact language of Rule 4.2-1 Reads:
(1) A lawyer may market professional services, provided that the marketing is:
(a) demonstrably true, accurate and verifiable
(b) neither misleading, confusing or deceptive, nor likely to mislead confuse or deceive
(c) in the best interests of the public and consistent with a high standard of professionalism.
The code of conduct provides commentary to better define points a, b, and c, and in the process designates certain marketing techniques as verboten. A few of the enumerated prohibitions include:
- No stating, in qualitative terms, that you are superior to other lawyers
- No raising expectations unjustifiably
- No suggesting or implying that you are aggressive
- No disparaging or demeaning of other persons, groups, organizations, or institutions
- No use of testimonials or endorsements that contain emotional appeals
- No use of the term “specialist” or “expert” unless you have been designated a specialist or expert by the Law Society.
- No use of a trade name that obscures the fact that the firm practices law (i.e. Solutions Inc.)
- No use of the phrase “and company” or “and associates” by sole practitioners
- No designating (on letterhead or other marketing materials) persons not entitled to practice law in Alberta
So what can you do? Well, you can:
- Use the word “expertise” in association with your preferred practice areas (so long as the use of the word does not suggest a special status or accreditation)
- Use client testimonials so long as they are true, verifiable, and (in the case of testimonial’s that mention recovered sums) indicate that past cases are not necessarily indicative of future results.
- Advertise your law firm’s proficiency or experience
Hopefully this quick guide has helped you solve some of your legal marketing issues. However, if you’re still unsure about a specific scenario then we highly recommend looking through the Law Society of Alberta’s Code of Conduct.