Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Can a lawyer encourage internet users to join the lawyer’s social networking sites and be entered in a random prize drawing as an incentive? The answer is yes, according to the N.Y. State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics. Of course, there are qualifications.
(1) If the primary purpose is to promote the client’s retention of the lawyer, the prize offer must be labeled “Attorney Advertising” and comply with rules regarding attorney advertising.
(2) If the primary purpose is otherwise, it is not subject to lawyer advertising rules, but must not be deceitful or make misrepresentations.
(3) Offering the prize for the general purpose of business development does not invoke the rules on lawyer advertising.
Here is the Committee’s opinion.
The real question is what sorts of potential clients are going to be enticed by this gimmick and, in the end, will they be the kind of clients that the lawyer wants to attract and work with?