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Court delays enforcement of attorney website rules

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Court delays enforcement of attorney website rules

The Supreme Court has approved a deadline extension for Bar members to meet new rules governing attorney and law firm websites.

Pursuant to a request from the Bar Board of Governors, the court in its June 10 order delayed the rules’ July 1 effective date until 90 days after the court acts on website rule amendments the Bar has submitted to the court, at the court’s request.

Those amendments are still pending at the court, as this News went to press. They were submitted to the court, along with the request for an extension on June 1.

As written, the current website requirements in Rule 4-7.6 would have become effective July 1. Those rules require that attorney and law firm websites comply with the requirements of Rule 4-7.2. (Websites would remain exempt from the filing requirement under Rules 4-7.7 and 4-7.8.) Rule 4-7.2, though, includes a prohibition on referring to past results or using testimonials – a feature of most legal websites.

The proposed amendments just submitted to the court at its request provide that sections of attorney and law firm websites, which do not comply with Rule 4-7.2, be accessible only after a viewer takes an affirmative action after seeing a disclaimer, such as clicking on a link. (See story in the June 15 Bar News. ) That step would qualify as information sent at the request of a potential client, which is exempt from Rule 4-7.2, although other Bar rules still apply.

If those amendments are adopted by the court, most law firms and attorneys are expected to have to revamp their websites to comply, and will have to do so within the 90-day period.

The order came in In Re: Amendments to the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar – Rule 4-7.6, Computer Accessed Communications, Case no. SC10-1014.

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