Can Attorneys Advertise in a Modern South Africa?
Times have changed, legislation has changed, and most importantly society has changed.
The implementation of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 and the implementation of the uniform Rules for the Attorneys' Profession as set out in Government Gazette No. 39740 (the "Rules") has brought about changes to the way in which Attorneys may conduct themselves in regards to advertising and marketing their services.
The most likely catalyst for these changes are the many advancements to the manner in which we communicate. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media domains, while nearly non-existent 10 years ago, are now a prominent factor in the ordinary persons everyday life.
So what what are the effects of these changes to the Rules and are Attorneys in allowed to advertise and market themselves in this modern digital age?
The use of Social Media platforms are specifically permitted under the heading of Approaches and Publicity at point 41.1 of the Rules. In specific, the Rules require that all advertisements made through Social Media comply with the rules relating to that of approaches and publicity as well as the rules of conduct. (An in depth discussion on approaches and publicity can be found here: why-is-the-term-publication-important-when-advertising-or-marketing-a-law-firm)
In addition to the above, One Legal Advertising has approached the Law Council for guidance and clarification on the current state of the law with regards to the use of Social Media Platforms for the use of advertising and marketing which has been met with approval.
Billboard, Television, Radio and other
While not referred individually in the Rules, as Social Media is, clear guidance is provided as to the manner in which such written, pictorial, and aural advertisements are to be made to the public.
While the there as several specific rules, we believe it is important to keep the following in mind:
no advertisements may be made with the intention of procuring work in terms of which another Attorney has received instructions;
no advertisements may be offensive or inappropriate;
no advertisements may misrepresent the services being offered.
In specific the Rules note that such all advertisements shall be considered to be either an approach or shall alternatively constitute publicity and must accordingly be made with the relevant considerations in mind. (For more on Approach or Publicity, see: )
As may be noted from point 41.2 of the Rules, Attorney firms are entitled to engage third party companies to advertise and market their services.
In addition to the above, One Legal Advertising has approached the Law Council for guidance and clarification on whether it may provide advertising services for and on behalf of Attorney Firms, which has been met with approval.
Attorney firms must be aware, however, that they may not require the Advertising Agency to engage in touting whereby such firm offers the payment of money, a financial reward, or other inducement of any kind for the Advertising Agency to referral professional work.
Advertising Agencies may perform the work expected of an Advertising Agency (the creation of artworks, the obtaining of commercial advertisement space, the marketing of clients, etc) but may not be expected to solicit individual clients and refer such to the Attorney Firm for reward or gain.
In short, Attorneys may advertise in many forms, including but not limited to Television Commercials, Radio Spots, Facebook Marketing, YouTube Adverts, Instagram Posts, LinkedIn Profiles, Billboards and many others provided that such advertisements are in compliance with the Rules.
If you require guidance in making sure your advertisements are in compliance with the Rules or you alternatively require advertising services, feel free to give us a call at any time.