The Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, governing the conduct of lawyers, was recently modified after the Alabama State Bar issued an ethics opinion regarding attorneys using Groupon to market their firms. These modifications include a ban on lawyers and their firms using "Daily Deal" websites like Groupon to offer legal services at a discount. Alabama joins Indiana in issuing this ban, while New York, North Carolina and South Carolina have issued ethics opinions approving their use. After addressing these states' respective opinions on the subject, the Alabama Ethics Opinion states, "All acknowledge, however, that marketing discounted services through these sites is fraught with ethical landmines."
Those landmines include the firm's inability to do a conflict check before the "coupon" is purchased by a potential client. Attorneys are required to avoid conflicts of interest when accepting clients and cases for representation. When issuing a digital coupon to an unknown individual, who creates an attorney-client relationship by buying the firm's coupon, there is no way to first determine whether there is a conflict or potential conflict present.
Another landmine this type of marketing presents law firms is running afoul of the prohibition on fee-splitting with non-attorneys, like the Groupon-type internet marketing providers.
The value of this information to those looking for lawyers, or discounts on legal services, is to be both informed and wary of a coupon for the services of an Alabama lawyer on a Deal-of-the-Day site, which is likely not a legitimate coupon or an enforceable deal.