People probably expect lawyers to exaggerate; it's what we do.
Like when an attorney says a client chained to a chair in court is "not guilty," who really believes that? It's not a lie, but everybody knows the real story.
Outside the courtroom, it's a different story. Lawyers have to check the hyperbole at the door. Here are the three, biggest hyperbolic don'ts in lawyer marketing:
Don't Lie on Social Media
Maybe you can get away with calling out opposing counsel for "unmitigated lies" in pleadings, although you won't win any arguments that way. The court will probably dismiss your argument, may even sanction you, and an appeal will probably exacerbate the problem.
In the court of public opinion, however, there is no appeal. Consumers will make you eat your false words on social media -- forever.
Plus, consumer complaints can also easily turn into regulatory complaints. So when posting on a firm Facebook page, Twitter account or similar public forum, worry more about the fact-checking than the spell-checking.
Don't Forget to Update Websites
Unlike social media posts, websites are often static. What you said to promote the firm back when it launched, may not be true anymore.
It's a temptation to portray your law firm as bigger, better or stronger in the virtual world. People can't actually see if there's an old bald guy behind that website curtain.
Better edit the false front periodically. Keep an eye out for superlatives and buzzwords that may not ring true.
Don't Boast to the News Media
Contrary to uniformed opinion, bad press is not good press. The problem with going to the media for publicity is that they ultimately control the message.
If you exaggerate to reporters, they will look for facts that may challenge your statements. Attorney John Pierce is learning that lesson.
He reportedly told American Lawyer that his firm was the "fastest-growing law firm in the history of the world." History will probably prove otherwise.