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The popularity of coupon sites like Groupon have plenty of businesses – large and small – jumping on the daily deal bandwagon. But a court recently ruled against one profession using the marketing tactic.
Lawyers, it seems, can run afoul of the rules of their profession by offering discounted services through these sites.
An Alabama court recently ruled that lawyers violate state bar rules by using such coupons. In the case, a law firm offered $500 worth of legal services for $250 though a Groupon offer. The website would be entitled to half the coupon value ($125) and the law firm would get the other $125.
That, says the court, would violate state bar regulations barring lawyers from sharing fees with folks who aren’t lawyers. Coupons would also violate other professional ethics rules.
Finance pros whose organizations must comply with professional ethics and standards need to be aware of how they can run afoul of those rules by offering online deals. In most cases, the rules and their interpretations are state-related. For example, an Indiana bar committee decided that using group coupon or daily deal marketing is likely not permitted under professional rules of conduct.
But, the New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics issued an opinion in support of using such sites, so long as the advertisement is not “false, deceptive or misleading.” South Carolina has also approved “daily deal” websites, but issued a warning.
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