ABA Issues Website Ethics Opinion; Also Seeks Lawyer Comment By December 15th For Blog And Paid Search Rules. Directories Being Scrutinized
October 29, 2010
An online marketing strategy should be included in every law firm marketing plan, and we advise all of our clients closely follow their state ethics schemes when developing and maintaining websites and blogs. However, only a few states have directly addressed the Internet marketing era. The guidance out there is scanty with few states having anything more than a few opinions or amended rules directly addressing the most modern marketing tools. Instead, firms have to look at rules developed prior to the advent of email and Google and apply them as best possible to their sites, blogs and social media, such as a LinkedIn or Facebook or JD Supra.
That is now changing.
The ABA recently issued its first formal website ethics opinion, Opinion 10-457.
In addition, the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 Working Group on the Implications of New Technologies is now seeking formal comment by December 15, 2010 on an issues paper dated September 20 entitled “Concerning Lawyers’ Use of Internet Based Client Development Tools.”
The ABA commission is seeking comment on rules governing:
• Pay-per-click advertising
• Pay-per-lead arrangements
• Online social networking profiles and email (Facebook, AVVO, LinkedIn & Twitter)
• Contact Us/FAQ/Ask-A-Question features on websites
• Discussion forums and chat rooms; live chat and website features
• JD Supra document uploads
• Use of case histories
As ABA members we will be submitting our comments on the issues.
Interestingly, in a footnote on page two of the issues paper the ABA noted that the “Commission is also separately considering issues related to rankings and ratings of both lawyers and law firms as well as the emergence of third-party services that provide information about lawyers and solicits their participation in supplying that information.”