Legal Ethics

'Law Tigers' lawyer is reprimanded because referral website didn't comply with testimonial ban

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An Indiana lawyer has been reprimanded because he was affiliated with a referral website that posted testimonials.

The lawyer, who was not named, contracted with the American Association of Motorcycle Injury Lawyers for exclusive use of the “Law Tigers” name in his Indiana territory and for referrals through its website, according to a per curiam opinion (PDF) by the Indiana Supreme Court. The Legal Profession Blog noted the case.

The Law Tigers website had examples of previous results by Law Tiger lawyers with testimonials such as “Law Tigers went above and beyond! The settlement was more than expected!” The referral website also had a “settlements and verdicts” page with examples of past results.

The lawyer also maintained his own website, which included a statement that his firm was not allowed to include information about previous results from settlements and verdicts. Though the Law Tigers website linked to the lawyer’s website, visitors to the Law Tigers website were not required to access the link to be put in contact with the lawyer.

The Indiana Supreme Court found that the lawyer’s association with the Law Tigers website violated ethics rules barring client testimonials and data on past results. The average viewer, the court said, would not differentiate between the lawyer and the statements about Law Tigers on the referral website.

The court also said Law Tigers’ promotional materials failed to include the lawyer’s office address, which violated an ethics rule requiring an office address in public communications.

The blog MyShingle criticized the opinion. “The way that I read the Indiana Supreme Court opinion,” MyShingle says, “I don’t see any principled way to distinguish Law Tiger from the new crop of matchmaking platforms. Which means that the Indiana court decision will have a chilling effect on lawyers in Indiana—and potentially other jurisdictions.”

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