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Monday, April 13, 2015

California Opinion Would Establish Guidelines for Attorney Bloggers

Lawyers blog. That in itself is not a problem, as blogging is neither illegal nor unethical.  However, the content or materials posted on a lawyer's blog could implicate any number of ethical rules that lawyers must follow.  Recently, California has proposed an opinion addressing the ethics rules that restrict or limit attorney advertising.  You can read the proposed opinion here.

In short, proposed opinion 12-0006 would provide guidelines on the type of blog content that would constitute advertising in California and, therefore, be subject to Rule 1-400 of the Rules for Professional Conduct that applies to California attorneys.  

The proposed opinion provides the following guidelines to California attorneys who blog:
  1. 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. 
  2. 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 of which it is a part. 
  3. A stand-alone blog by an attorney that does not relate to the practice of law or otherwise express the attorney’s availability for professional employment will not become subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising simply because the blog contains a link to the attorney or law firm’s professional website. 
Comments were accepted until late March.  A formal opinion will follow the committee's review of the comments.

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