In a recent opinion, the State Bar of California shared the circumstances under which the Rules of Professional Conduct apply to blogging attorneys. In other words, at what point does blogging about your practice (areas, successes, cases, etc…) become something the State Bar might be interested in, and not because your dynamic use of images draws them to your blog?
As we have discussed ad infinitum, maintaining an ethical (and effective!) online presence is necessary for attorneys in all states. California has stepped up the ante, letting us know that:
“Blogging by an attorney is subject to the requirements and restrictions of the Rules of Professional Conduct and the State Bar Act relating to lawyer advertising if the blog expresses the attorney’s availability for professional employment directly through words of invitation or offer to provide legal services, or implicitly through its description of the type and character of legal services offered by the attorney, detailed descriptions of case results, or both.”Furthermore, a “blog that is a part of an attorney’s or law firm’s professional website will be subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising to the same extent as the website.”
This means that if you are utilizing your law firm blog to “communicate” (as defined under Rule 1-400) or “advertise” (as defined under Business and Professions Code section 6157) to potential, past, or present clients, you must closely monitor the content of your blog and have the proper disclaimers in place. Monitoring your blog’s content, or having an experienced content writing team in place, is crucial:
“a message to the ultimate result of a specific case or cases presented out of context without adequately providing information as to the facts or law giving rise to the result is presumed to be false, misleading, or deceptive.”
What’s more, “any guarantee of outcome or promise of quick payment” will also land you in hot water with the State Bar. And we have read enough law firm websites to know that the above no-no’s are replete throughout many law firm blogs!
For more information on how to build a strong online presence without putting your license at risk, contact the attorneys turned legal marketing professionals at WebPresence, Esq. today. Our blog writers are experienced attorneys who understand the law and the necessity in drafting professional, ethical blog posts.