Clio, Me and the FTC

After I published my post this morning, Clio Turns Two, As Lawyers Ease Into the Cloud, a reader wrote to ask why I hadn’t complied with the FTC’s endorsement guidelines and disclosed that Clio is an advertiser. Lest anyone think I am being in any way deceptive, let me address this.

First, Clio is not an advertiser.  I receive no money or anything of value from Clio. (I will confess, however, that I did once win a ClioPad.) The FTC guidelines are intended to address situations in which someone, appearing to be neutral, endorses a product, when in fact the person was paid or given something of value by the company that sells the product.

Second, although Clio is an advertiser on the podcast I cohost, Lawyer2Lawyer, I receive no money or any other form of compensation for my participation in that podcast. I know nothing about the terms of Clio’s sponsorship. Whatever Clio pays — assuming it pays something — goes to the owners of the Legal Talk Network,

Third, I do not consider my post this morning to be an “endorsement.”  The FTC guidelines define an endorsement as describing “opinions, beliefs, findings, or experience.” My post today was not a review of Clio and did not contain any of my own opinions about it. I reported facts about it based on my interview with the company’s owner. I do not use Clio in my own practice or have an account by which to access it.

Had I written a review of Clio and issued a recommendation for or against it, I would have felt compelled to disclose Clio’s sponsorship of my podcast. Even though I get no value from that sponsorship, I can’t deny that it generates good will; I enjoy doing the podcast and I’m glad Clio helps make it possible. But I don’t think my post today had any connection to the FTC guidelines. I neither issued an endorsement of Clio nor received anything of value from it.

Having said all this, I am a strong believer in transparency and disclosure. The simple fact that the reader even had to write to ask suggests that I should have said something in the first place. So I have amended my earlier post to note the sponsorship of the podcast. And I extend my thanks to the reader for raising this important issue.