Applying State Bar Rules to Facebook

Dean Dietrich who is the chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee offers this analysis of how the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Responsibility apply to an attorney’s Facebook page.

He makes a couple important points:

  • Social media profiles are subject to the same set of rules as any other form of advertising
  • That Facebook can’t be used to solicit prospective clients without requiring a notice “advertising material.”

A couple other issues that he doesn’t mention in this context are:

  • Facebook may qualify as real-time communication if you are “friends” with someone and engage them on Facebook chat.  This is particularly an issue as being a “friend” on Facebook doesn’t require a relationship so this real-time chat could be with essentially a complete stranger.
  • Facebook raises breach of confidentiality issues with clients and prospective clients because of its transparency.  Attorney will want to closely examine privacy setting and avoid any discussion of client matters on this or any other social media website.
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