Almost certainly, at some point in the course of your ecosystem development, you’ll be linking to other websites from your website, social media and your blog.
There is no Model Rule on point, nor are there any formal opinions that I have found, that speak to whether a website visitor may be misled into thinking that a link to another law firm from your resources page or social media is a recommendation or referral to that law firm.
Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile to include language in your disclaimer that links to other law firms are not referrals or recommendations. This helps us avoid liability for negligent referral.
You’ll want to do two things:
- Specify when you’re linking to another web site, that it is not a referral or recommendation.
- Clearly state that you are not responsible for the content of that website, its’ accuracy, whether it’s legal information or legal advice, or whether it has the appropriate disclaimers.
You don’t want people to take a recommendation as a referral, or you could get in a lot of trouble, and it’s more complicated when you actually recommend another lawyer.
For instance, let’s say you make peer endorsements for other law firms on websites like Avvo and LinkedIn. If someone sees one of those endorsements from you for another lawyer saying something like, “We highly recommend [lawyer’s name] for your personal injury matters,” it may be perceived as a referral or recommendation, (and reasonably so). Then, if Johnson and Smith Law Firm blows the statute of limitations or otherwise ruins the case in some negligent manner, you might find yourself as one of the defendants in a legal malpractice suit.