History of Attorney Web Marketing in the U.S.

Attorney web marketing is the newest form of advertising for lawyers. For a long time, lawyers relied on advertisements in the phone book or on television to market their practice. With the advent of the Internet and World Wide Web in the 1990s, a whole new avenue for marketing was opened up for the legal profession.

Initially, attorney web marketing efforts revolved around websites operated by firms or individual lawyers. Online marketing strategies evolved to include online legal directories and attorney-client matching services. Also called “Internet-Based Lawyer Marketing” or other similar terms, most agree that attorney web-marketing plays a critical role for the future of the legal profession.

In its beginning stages, lawyer web marketing received its fair share of legal scrutiny, as with most other forms of lawyer advertising. To be sure, all attorney web marketing efforts must comply with State Bar advertising requirements, as well as nation-wide professional and ethics standards. Generally speaking, the law prohibits advertising that is false or misleading.

LegalMatch’s Role in Pushing for Favorable FTC Web Marketing Rulings

One would expect that internet-based lawyer advertising would “hit the ground running” as soon as the internet came out. Surprisingly, this was not the case in the “early days” of attorney web marketing. In particular, online attorney client-matching services (ACM) were virtually non-existent during the internet’s incipient years.

As one of the first attorney-client matching services online, LegalMatch played a major role in the development of these unique, ground-breaking services. Prior to attorney-client matching services, potential clients often had no way of reviewing an attorney’s background or performance before contacting them through traditional advertising.

LegalMatch’s influential role in online attorney-client matching services became evident in 2006, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an opinion unanimously supporting online legal matching. In the FTC opinion (PDF), the FTC described online legal matching services as a “valuable option” for consumers, as well as an effective avenue for lawyers to competitively promote their services.

The FTC cited LegalMatch as one of the main examples of an ACM business model for their 2006 opinion. LegalMatch developed much of the groundwork for attorney-client matching, and continues to be an innovator in online legal matching. Today, more and more lawyers are choosing LegalMatch’s attorney client matching platform as the preferred method for attorney web marketing.

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