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August 12, 2015

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Creating Amazing Videos and Avoiding Ethics Violations

by contributor
A man in the suit hits the play button.
Video is a powerful tool for reaching new clients and expanding legal practices. Here’s how to do it effectively and ethically.

A man in the suit hits the play button.

Video is a powerful platform for connecting with new prospects, establishing a stronger online presence, and providing resources for your current clients. As part of our ethics day on Aug. 26, 2015, we will be covering how to create content — including video — that avoids common ethics violations. But what makes a good video and where do lawyers typically get into trouble?

Effective videos contain short sound bites of information and virtually no pitching. Our current clients are usually producing between 50 and 100 videos per shoot. You may be thinking that takes a really long time, but with videos targeting about 60 seconds in length, the total production time is only about four hours.

The primary goal for your video is to provide useful content while also making people aware of what you practice and the services your firm offers. Think of commonly asked questions and also the questions people should be asking. Because of this, there are three areas where we recommend you be extra cautious: comparative speech, solicitation, and giving advice.

Comparative speech
It happens all the time — a lawyer is talking about his practice and suddenly he indirectly compares himself to other attorneys. This occurs when lawyers refer to themselves as “the best” or “the most [blank].” Without verification by data, you cannot make a comparative claim.

Solicitation
There is a murky line between providing information and soliciting business. If you ask people to call your law firm or retain your services, your video becomes an advertisement and subject to RPC 7.1, 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4 specifically. Providing your information is not automatically commercial speech; it all depends on how you present your contact information. Ask yourself if this could at all be considered commercial speech, and if it could, please add your disclaimer to the video summary.

Giving advice
It can be difficult to talk about a specific situation and not give advice. To get around this issue, train yourself to use the same words in a video that you would use with someone who is not a client and who is asking you legal questions. Try beginning comments with, “One thing to consider…” or, “Sometimes…” Statements that begin in this manner make it clear there are other options. It is also advised that you end with a statement such as the following: “You should seek professional counsel if you have been in [blank] situation.”

In the end, you need to start creating video. Since you know your practice areas well, creating a lot of content should be easy. If you have any questions about a specific ethics situation, feel free to email me at jabez@gngf.com.

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