Many websites have testimonials from past satisfied clients to convince website visitors that the firm is good and well-liked by its clients. Elsewhere in this blog I talk about how testimonials can effectively improve the feel of your website.
With respect to what is misleading, a lot of what applies to case results is true for testimonials, too.
The Model Rules don’t speak specifically to testimonials. Many States allow testimonials and some States do not. If your State allows testimonials, like California, the State will often have an explicit disclaimer requirement. In the case of California, there is the following prescribed language for your testimonial disclaimer:
“This testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.”
The wording of this disclaimer is simple, concise, and likely easily understood by all. It is recommended that you use the disclaimer as California has drafted it unless your State has its own prescribed wording. California also requires that the disclaimer be placed on the testimonials page.
While you should do your research on this point, some examples of States that I have found where you cannot use testimonials include Florida, Indiana and South Carolina. There are probably a half-dozen others.
Some states like Pennsylvania, have restrictions on testimonials. They are allowed, but there are certain types of testimonials that are prohibited.
The bottom line here is, if you have case results and/or testimonials on your website, first clear it with your local rules to see if they are allowed, and if they are allowed, always include a disclaimer, even if you your State does not specifically require it.
If your State is using the Model Rules as drafted, as the rules pertain to case results, you will need to have a disclaimer there.