Florida Drops Ill-Conceived Proposal To Ban Competitive Keyword Advertising By Lawyers (Forbes Cross-Post)

30 12 2013

In March, the Florida State Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising proposed an ethics opinion (Proposed Advisory Opinion A-12-1). The opinion was designed to help Florida lawyers understand what they could ethically do with online marketing. It targeted a melange of now-outdated search engine optimization (SEO) practices, such as hidden text and keyword metatags. It also restricted competitive keyword advertising–”[l]awyers may not purchase the name of another lawyer or law firm as a key word in search engines”–even though it’s becoming increasingly clear over the years that such competitive keyword advertising purchases are legal and legitimate (see, e.g., Habush v. Cannon). Rather than enlighten attorneys about their ethical obligations, this proposal was both hopelessly antiquated and potentially detrimental to legitimate competition.


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