In the real world, is a disclaimer enough to manage expectations of your website visitors? Are you indeed clarifying everything on your website so that, however unsophisticated the website visitor is, they aren’t misled by what they read on your website?
I would suggest that while it would be nice for people to read your disclaimer and understand it, and to have their expectations managed thereby, a lot of people just don’t read it.
Your website analytics will show that the disclaimers page brings very low traffic volume. For many, it’s like an end-user license agreement where you automatically accept the terms of it, and simply click “Submit” without a thought about whether an attorney-client relationship is being established, or whether, perhaps, they are relying to their detriment on some legal information in your blog.
In reality, consumers or potential clients seldom navigate to your disclaimer because that information has no relevance to the reason they are on your website in the first place: to hire a lawyer for their legal issue. If they do happen to navigate there, they may not understand it, or read the whole thing. Whatever the case may be, the disclaimer may not in practical effect accomplish what we want it to accomplish.
This apparent pointlessness notwithstanding, the reason the disclaimer is still important is that it tells the licensing authority in your State that you are doing your best to manage users’ expectations, and that you are in full compliance with recommended or prescribed local rules. You can’t do more, nor are you expected to.
In sum, the disclaimer is important for these two reasons:
- To try to help people to understand what they’re reading on our website – what it is and what it isn’t.
- And, to make sure that our licensing authority (and errors and omissions insurer) is satisfied with what we’ve published in our ecosystem.