New Local Services Ads Verification Steps for Lawyers in 2024

In early March 2024, Google emailed attorneys a message titled “Local Services Ads verification steps are being updated for your industry”.

Google used to require identity verification for lawyers. They stopped about 2 years ago. They’re bringing the measure back due to spam.

Local Services Ads (LSA) efforts to reduce spam:

If you were not aware, I have authored multiple articles in multiple publications since July 2021 about LSA spam. I have spoken to bar associations, the FTC, attorneys, multiple team members at Google, and more. I’ve applied more pressure to LSA than anyone on the planet. These changes will not solve all of their problems (such as fake LSA reviews), but, it is indeed a step in the right direction.

If you have been in a market alongside several spammers, I’m sure you will appreciate ANY help.

I suspect these changes will help in a few ways:

  • Affiliation: The email from LSA says “By the end of 2024, lawyers appearing in your Local Services Ads will need to pass an identity check alongside their license check to ensure they are affiliated with your business.” Currently, a common spam tactic is to set up a DBA and use an “of counsel” attorney as the primary attorney on an LSA account. Spammers are able to launch dozens of LSA accounts using this tactic. It appears this could be helpful.
  • Owner: The business owner or senior partner will need to pass an identity check. Their email reads “In order to keep your Local Services Ads running, the business owner or senior partner at your firm or practice will need to pass an identity check.”

For the last 2 years, the only thing Google has looked at was an attorney’s name and their readily available Bar Number. Anyone could literally enter anything into LSA to create accounts.

When will attorneys need to verify?

The rollout will occur in 4 phases.

  • Google is starting with AK, DE, DC, HI, ID, KS, MN, MI, MO, NM, ND, SD, VT & WY.
  • Phase 2 will cover AL, AK, CT, KY, MD, MI, MN, NE, NV, NH, OK, OR, RI, TN, UT & WI.
  • Phase 3 will cover AZ, CO, GA, IL, IN, LA, MA, MI, NJ, NC, OH, PA, SC, VA & WA.
  • Phase 4 is California, Florida & Texas.

Phase 4 will most definitely be the most difficult. By then, LSA should have the experience needed to tackle such a task.

How To verify:

I suspect that directions will be sent out when the time comes. Google is using Evident for verification in other verticals, and used to use them with LSA after they stopped using Pinkerton, so they’ll likely use Evident.

For what it’s worth, the verification takes place with Evident. Google does not get (any more of) your personal data.

Here’s a screenshot of the email that Google sent out:

LSA screenshot 2024