The headline made me chuckle: ABA Ethics Study of Client Development Tools Alarms Marketers.
Anything that alarms marketers must mean that something having to do with honesty and integrity is getting too close for comfort.
The lead to the story confirms the reason for the whining: The American Bar Association is examining the ethics of online client development tools such as blogs and Facebook, the sentence ends and some marketers are none too happy about it.
Well, we can't have unhappy marketers now, can we?
So the ABA's Commission on Ethics 20/20 wants to know if it should pursue further research and regulation of that area over the next two years.
Oh boy. The ABA wants to clean up the sewer that is online legal marketing. What has the world come to when the American Bar Association, the former pillar of the legal community that is now to social media and social media marketers like a screaming teenager is to a Taylor Swift concert, wants to take a look at the online swill?
Larry Bodine, who I remember not being a real big fan of twitter, said the ABA should be concentrating its ethics effort on lawyers who steal from their clients, not lawyers who use Twitter.
No Larry, I think the ABA should be concentrating on lawyers who use twitter to steal from clients, by lying to them about their qualifications, by setting up profiles that stretch the truth, by paying online marketers who are only interested in "creating" the impression that the lawyer is more than they really are.
Larry thinks that the internet is a major way clients find attorneys these days, and regulations that would prompt lawyers to shy away from that arena would only hurt the public. He wants other marketers and bloggers to vocally oppose further ABA involvement in online client development.
I oppose further ABA involvement under one condition: lawyers and marketers stop lying. Lawyers and marketers stop creating images of lawyers that are hurting the public by creating impressions of the lawyer that are deceptive, false, and misleading. The ABA isn't concerned that lawyers are advertising online - they are concerned that lawyers are lying online.
Larry is 100% correct - Lawyers are very ginger when it comes to marketing online, and this is just going to frighten the daylights out of them if it becomes an ethics rule.
Ethics rules are not the enemy of good marketing.
Or are they? Is that the message? If we have to tell the truth or be subject to discipline we'll all go out of business? Lawyers? And marketers?
Maybe it's time for lawyers to start being less "ginger" in their online marketing.
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.