Disdain for Disclaimer’s

The Bar Council has recently been debating allowing lawyers to advertise on the Internet. Most of the websites of lawyers/law firms from India have a standard disclaimer. The disclaimer is essentially a statement of conformity with the bar council rules which place an absolute bar on advocates advertising and soliciting for any purpose, and indicating any area of specialization. However, once a person clicks through the disclaimer and enters the website, it usually contains the practice areas as well as the areas of specialization. Hence, the disclaimer remains a crude device to maintain appearances. The appearances disappear once one probe’s further… with search rank optimization on most of these websites. It is quite evident that efforts are being made to solicit clients through such websites once a casual glance is made at the Meta tags. This is not a position where (a) a client has prior information (b) desires further information © visits the website to get further information. This is a position where (a) a law firm sets a website (b) adds Meta tags, which indicate the practice areas © the website subsequently appears on search engines (d) a prospective client clicks on the link. Hence, the law against absolute prohibition against advertising is being violated in spirit. That being said, my personal opinion is that the nature of the legal profession has changed. There are aspects of law which are purely commercial in nature and law firms should be allowed to advertise. However some sanity needs to be added to the allowance, to save litigants from ambulance chasers, on the information superhighway. Here I support high regulation to absolute prohibition.

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