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Joe Marchelewsk, president of AIJ Communications (Photo: Courtesy Photo) Joe Marchelewsk, president of AIJ Communications. (Courtesy photo)

The State Bar of California currently has no rules limiting the use of an attorney’s name when it comes to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising with Google. A PPC campaign allows a law firm to bid on a specific phrase, so that when someone types in “car accident lawyer” or “Los Angeles real estate attorney” the firm’s ad appears at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

This is not a problem when it comes to terms relevant to potential clients. However, there should absolutely be a restriction on using a specific attorney’s name as a PPC term and currently, there are no restrictions. What this means is that if an attorney types in “attorney john doe” or “attorney jane doe” into Google, other attorneys can also bid on those attorney names as if they were generic terms. So, attorneys who have spent decades cultivating a practice, deepening their knowledge of the law and obtaining tremendous results on behalf of their clients can lose a client to someone who uses their name as if it were a consumer product.

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