Law Firm Marketing Ethics in a Web 3.0 World

On 01.05.10, In Legal Marketing, by Blake Houser

In this ever increasing technological world, more businesses are realizing that the internet is an essential tool to expanding their clientele. The World Wide Web is now overflowing with information available to anyone who has access to the internet. Now, the internet is moving from information overload to users being able control information. The impact on law firms looking to expand their clientele using online marketing has resulted in the need to understand marketing ethics in this Web 3.0 world.

Legal Marketing and Web 3.0

As the predecessor to Web 3.0, Web 2.0 was all about linking people. For instance social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and MySpace, was all about connecting people. Now, with the development of Web 3.0, the emphasis has moved from linking people to linking data. Using Web 2.0 technology platforms and applications, Web 3.0 applications permits the linking of high quality services and content to the individual user’s interests and preferences. It is believed that Web 3.0 is going develop into a personal assistant for each internet user. For instance, by using a Web 3.0 browser, as one searches the internet, the browser will keep records of the searches to determine personal preferences for future searches.

The idea of a Web 3.0 world is that it will create distinct profiles of every internet user. The profile will be used to enrich each user’s search experience in a unique way using their personal search history and unique key words. The result is that every user will be able to control information. Web 3.0 is about connecting information, applications, programs, and concepts, with the ultimate goal of connecting to potential clients. It is based on intelligent web applications which are used to create a ‘global hypertext medium’ and internet accessing devices will learn and respond to the user’s personal tastes. For instance, each user’s software agent will learn more about the individual user by observing and recording online activities. As it relates to law firm marketing strategies, the issues of privacy and marketing ethics become a serious issue when using Web 3.0 to acquire new clients.

Preventing Unethical Online Client Development

For business marketers, the development of Web 3.0 has revolutionized the way they target online users. As users create their online data profile, there are concerns about how much personal information should be gathered for marketing purposes. Ethical standards for legal marketers are essential in this open data virtual world. For instance, Web 3.0 applications will learn more about users individually by observing and recording their activities electronically. This leads to individual privacy issues and how a business should ethically gather and use personal information to market to potential clients. When a law firm is equipped with ethical guidelines for marketing online, they can protect themselves from unethical online client development that can result in State Bar penalties. Law firms also have to learn how to protect their own sensitive information when marketing their firms online.

More consumers are now using the internet to locate information about specific legal issues and find legal representation. As consumers utilize the Internet to seek assistance with their legal issues, lawyers are going online to provide such assistance. As well, law firms are taking advantage of new online marketing methods to attract potential clients.  In this new open data driven world, it is vital that law firms understand and comply with ethical standards regarding their marketing practices.

Blake Houser

Client Relations Manager at The Wells & Drew Companies
About the author:
Blake Houser is Client Relations Manager at Wells & Drew. In addition, he is the third generation in this family-owned speciality printing business.