Posts Tagged ‘legal ethics’

Can Attorneys Reply to Blog Comments?

April 22, 2011

This is a question that Kevin O’Keefe answers in this post.  He had received a question from a law firm where one of the attorneys was worried that by answering a blog comment, an attorney client relationship is formed.

Too Categorical

Mr. O’Keefe responds by saying that its unlikely unless the comment is a specific question and the attorney gives a specific answer.  The other issue that comes up if the attorney does answer specifically and the commenter is located in a different juridiction, there could be an issue of unauthorized practice of law.

Rule of Thumb

Mr. O’Keefe provides a couple ways for attorneys to look at this safely. Remember the reasonable man theory and also think of social networking as a different forum for familiar activities.  So would it be reasonable for an attorney at a panel of industry professionals to refuse to answer question because there might be an issue that his/her answers could be construed as offering legal advice?

Don’t Go Negative Online or on Email

January 3, 2011

Here is a lesson two Florida lawyers learned the hard way after they were sanctioned by the Florida Supreme Court for flaming one another through email.

Replace “email” with “Facebook” or any other social networking outlet and the same lesson applies.

Website Disclaimers – No Magic Shield

December 16, 2010

Lawyers think that if they have a disclaimer somewhere on their website they will be shielded against pesky lawsuits or Bar violations. Wrong. Increasingly, state bars and the A.B.A are putting lawyers on notice that an effective disclaimer needs two additional elements:

  • The language of the disclaimer need to be comprehensible to the reasonable person.  For example, simply stating no “attorney client privilege” is invoked when a person sends an email from the lawyer’s website is not enough to vitiate the confidentiality of the information a person sends because the average person has no way of knowing that the attorney client privilege concerns confidentiality.
  • The disclaimer needs to be located within the proximity of whatever action the person engaging with the website might undertake.  For example, if an attorney has an email form with no disclaimer nearby, then that isn’t good enough for the ABA.  This is particularly pertinent to lawyers and law firms that create separate “disclaimer” pages.  If the visitor is expected to have clicked on the disclaimer page in order to understand that the lawyer is disclaiming liability in same way, this isn’t sufficient.

Social networking and client confidentiality

September 17, 2010

Here is an interesting discussion regarding skittish lawyers and social networking.  The blogger makes the argument that client confidentiality is no more an issue in a social networking context than it would be in a public setting.  However, there is a difference.

LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites allow people to claim each other as friends for all the world to see.

What if you feature your DUI practice on LinkedIn?

You meet someone at a social event and they ask you to draw up an LLC for them.  Afterwards, they decide to ask to connect with you on LinkedIn. Perhaps they didn’t even look at your profile but just saw your name and wanted to connect with you.  Later someone mentions to your client that they saw he was your connection.  The client says that the you had helped them with a legal matter.  This friends asks your client if they knew you did DUI work?

Awkward to say the least

Now your client looks at your LinkedIn profile and sees that you featuring your work as a DUI attorney.  They see their name listed as a connection and worry that people will think they have been arrested for a DUI.  Sure, they can de-connect with you but the incident leaves a bad taste in their mouth.  Is there a ethics violation here?  Probably not.  However, you as the attorney might have a professional duty to make sure that a client who wants to connect with you knows the implications of their actions before doing so.