Here is a link to the ABA’s most recent formal opinion about rules governing judges use of social media. While I think its great that the ABA is addressing this issue, it strikes me as odd that they focus on that rather than attorneys’ use social media. There are far more lawyers uncertain about how to ethically use social media than there are judges.
What about the Distinction Between Legal Information and Legal Advice?
I vote this as the biggest single ambiguity facing attorney bloggers today. In the days before the Internet, lawyers wrote articles about legal issues primarily for other lawyers. Or they provided existing clients detailed information in the form of newsletters. Now with blogs, attorneys face the issue that anyone, anywhere can read what they write and comment publicly about what they read. The fact that legal information is so easily available to prospective clients who may have no knowledge of the law nor any relationship with the attorney providing it, makes it unclear where the line is for attorneys in what they write online.
Issue of Forming a Prospective Client Relationship
I write here about basic rules that will assist the attorney to make clear to prospective clients that the legal information they provide doesn’t mean an attorney client relationship has been formed. This summary is based on a careful reading of the ABA Commission 20/20 Ethics commission and the release of ABA Resolution 105B. But this resolution doesn’t directly address this issue and until the ABA does it in a formal opinion like provided for to judges, the situation remain unclear.