Is your website in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)?
Does it include all necessary disclosures and disclaimers required by your state bar? Does it comply with the Rules of Professional Conduct?
These are crucial questions from both a risk management and ethical perspective.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects people with disabilities from discrimination. A portion of the ADA establishes accessibility guidelines for physical and online businesses. These apply to all types of businesses, including law firms, and require ease of access at physical offices and websites.
There are over 400 million active websites in the world, according to one source, and fewer than one percent are accessible. In the last five years, website accessibility lawsuits have risen 300 percent annually.
There were 10,982 ADA Title III lawsuits filed in 2020 and 11,053 filed in 2019, according to this source.
Here is the ADA website: The Americans with Disabilities Act | ADA.gov
Here is an ADA Compliance Checklist 2023: ADA Website Compliance Checklist 2023: What to Know | GovPilot
Here is a site where you can perform an instant “audit” of your website for ADA compliance. Your site is scanned, and within minutes you receive a compliance assessment, a list of deficiencies and suggested DIY fixes: Audit | A.Checker (accessibilitychecker.org) and Accessibility Checker – ADA & WCAG Compliance (Free Scan)
Website Compliance And The Americans With Disabilities Act – Above the Law
Why Your Law Firm Website Must Be ADA Compliant – Good2bSocial
Law Firm Websites and ADA Disability Compliance in 2022, 2023 (natlawreview.com)
Web Accessibility Lawsuits: What’s the Current Landscape? (levelaccess.com)
Your law practice has unique characteristics that identify it to the public and distinguish it from other firms. Are you maximizing those strengths? Are you blending all the disparate elements of your practice – experience, expertise, personnel, website, logo, font type, community involvement – into a clear, consistent and compelling law firm brand? Join us on March 29 at 12 noon CST for our one-hour CLE webinar Law Firm Branding: Practical Tips and Ethical Traps. You’ll learn the basics of branding, the relevant Rules of Professional Conduct on messaging, marketing and advertising, and best practices for compliance with the ADA and other laws. And you’ll learn how to clearly and concisely articulate who you are, what you do, and why you’re the right lawyer for the job. Yet another benefit of the Alta Pro Lawyers Risk Purchasing Group! Click here to register.
Disclosures and Disclaimers
It is essential to comply with all of your state’s rules on disclaimers and required verbiage in your branding activities, including your website, blog, social media postings, client solicitation letters, advertisements and marketing materials. These rules vary from state to state. Some examples (see your state’s rules for specifics):
- No attorney-client privilege is created by visiting your website, blog or social media accounts.
- Communications initiated through a chatbot, contact form submission or cold-call email do not create an attorney-client relationship and may not be confidential.
- “This is an advertisement for legal services” on marketing brochures, solicitation letters and websites.
- Stating that you are a “specialist” or “bar-certified” in a field of practice.
- Disclaimers regarding verdicts, settlements, results obtained for clients, and specific case outcomes.
- Explanation of fees and client costs, especially in matters handled on a contingency fee basis.
- Identification of the owner and/or creator of your website.
NOTE: Research your state’s rules regarding these and other required disclaimers and disclosures. Be sure to comply with the required verbiage, font-size, placement and other specifics.
Do you practice in Wisconsin, Texas, Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana or Michigan? Is your professional liability coverage managed through Alta Pro? If so, you’re automatically a member of the Alta Pro Risk Purchasing Group (RPG), which offers a wealth of benefits for your practice: free, cutting-edge CLE webinars featuring top experts tackling timely topics; the Pro Practice Playbook; the Pro Practice Blog; Reminger’s ProLink risk management assistance; Reminger’s Claim Repair Hotline; discounts on CLIO practice management software; tax savings on health insurance; and access to the Risk Pro, who can help keep your firm safe and successful. Register here and start enjoying your Alta Pro RPG benefits.