This article regarding the ABA’s 20/20 Commission guidance on social media for attorneys provide useful advice. The specific issue with which lawyers frequently struggle is being afraid of blogging or including articles on their website for fear that they will be perceived as giving legal advice and thereby forming a relationship with a prospective client that impedes on their abilities to practice.
For example, if a prospective client sends an attorney information, that attorney may have to treat it as confidential, this restricts the attorneys ability to represent a client adverse to the prospective one. How to avoid this?
- Keep your information for consumers basic and without detailed options based on specific fact patters. This is also good advice to insure that attorneys don’t confuse the reader. If the attorney tries to explain complex exceptions based on specific facts, that will soon go way over a reader’s head.
- Preface anything legal information with a caution that what you are saying doesn’t constitute legal advice and that readers facing such a situation should consult an attorney about specifics.
- As an extra precaution, make sure that you have included a generic disclaimer on each website or blog page that the information provided doesn’t constitute legal advise.
If an attorney does this, then according to ABA standards, there is no reasonable expectation that an attorney-client relationship has been formed with the prospective client.