In a recent article in Law.com’s Law Technology News section, Robert J. Ambroji discussed Social Media and Ethics for those of us in law.
Ethics and social media will be front and center at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting this month in its hometown, Chicago. The ABA’s House of Delegates — its governing body — will consider the recommendations of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which has proposed revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to address changes in technology.
The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, reminds us that the same old ethical rules apply to Social Media.
Do not betray client confidence when you tweet or blog, even if you think you are being discreet. as Illinois assistant public defender Kristine Ann Peshek found out when her license was suspended for 60 days when she blogged about her clients. Peshek thought she was blogging anonymously but it was determined that she had provided enough specific information on her clients that they could be identified.
Do not give out legal advice, this could be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. For us paralegals, this could be practicing law without a license.
Do not solicit clients. Targeting a specific person to be a client is not allowed, but participating in an online forum of any kind is permitted.
ABA Model Rule 7.2 says, “A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services.” Does this mean you cannot provide an endorsement of a colleague on sites such as LinkedIn or Avvo? Absolutely not, provided nothing of value is exchanged. But can you promise to provide an endorsement if the other attorney promises to endorse you in return? That quid pro quo could be seen as an exchange of value.
As Mr. Ambroji says in his article, it all comes down to common sense. If you wouldn’t talk about your client’s case with strangers outside of your office, why would you post it online? If you wouldn’t give out legal advice at your neighbor’s party, why would you do it online?
To read more of the article written by Mr. Ambroji, you can find it here. I would love to hear my fellow paralegals thoughts on Ethics and Social Media too.