Court Castigates the Solicit-Then-Refer Model

Attorneys referring cases amongst each other is as old as the practice itself, with referral fees embedded in state and model ethical rules. Whether a conflict exists or the attorney who receives the case is not adept at handling that type of matter, a referral can be a way for attorneys to be rewarded for successful marketing while ensuring proper client representation. However, when a firm appears to focus solely on marketing, and not on the legal matters advertised, significant ethical concerns arise.

The issue …

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NY Continues Trend of Rebuffing Online Legal Service Providers

New York has joined a growing list of states with ethics boards limiting an attorney’s ability to participate in online legal service providers like Avvo and LegalZoom. Similar to other jurisdictions, the New York ethics board authored an opinion honing in on the so called “marketing fee” charged by Avvo for attorney use of its website. Although the opinion declines to decide a list of other potential ethical issues with the company, it concludes that the “marketing fee” is actually a referral fee in violation …

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Pitfalls of Professional Posting

Professionals love to publicize success stories on the web.  Writing posts on recent victories is a valuable way of marketing a practice and generating new business.  In the case of professionals, however, success stories often entail details regarding clients, which could raise client confidentiality concerns.

Recently, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics filed a complaint against an attorney who publicized information regarding his representation of a client in a discrimination suit.  The attorney wrote an article about a case in which he represented an …

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Facebook Post May Lead to Attorney Disqualification

Social media is ubiquitous in the workplace.  Professionals use social media to write about their achievements, to discuss developments in their field, and to promote their practices.  Professionals who use social media as an extension of their practice must be cautious, however, that the discussion of pending matters does not violate their duty of confidentiality to clients or expose confidential information that would prejudice others.

The potential liability for uncensored social media posts was recently brought to the forefront in a lawsuit in Florida federal …

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Just How Super Are You? Advertising for Super Lawyers

We work hard. We achieve results. We want to develop business as a result of those successes. That’s all understandable since self-promotion is an important part of the development of professionals.  By touting personal achievements, professionals are better able to position themselves to compete for new clients.  Not surprisingly, many professionals include personal accolades in advertising materials. While the use of awards may be an effective advertising tool, if can also lead to ethical violations when done improperly.

The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on …

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Ethics of Disclosing Client Identity in Advertising

Professionals love to advertise success stories. We want would-be clients to know the results we achieved for current clients. However, publicizing specific results could lead to the disclosure of confidential information. Professionals therefore must be cognizant of whether advertising a particular case or representation is likely to cause embarrassment or harm to the client, and ensure client confidentiality.

The New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics recently issued an opinion regarding the ethics of client confidentiality in advertising.  The Committee considered a scenario …

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Social Media Ethical Considerations

You love blogging. Who doesn’t? For some professionals, blogging is an important part of education, outreach and networking. But, as we’ve discussed previously, blogs may be considered advertising and, if so, ethical considerations apply. The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility recently circulated a proposed opinion for public comment that addresses the ethical implications of blogging by attorneys.  The opinion considers when a communication subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct on attorney advertising.

The opinion sets forth several situations involving attorney …

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State Bar Prohibits Advertising via Text

Professionals are continuously looking for new ways to reach new clients.  Given the popularity of text messaging, many firms have considered incorporating SMS messaging into their marketing plans.  However, sending direct advertising to individuals’ cell phones could violate ethics rules on advertising and implicate federal laws prohibiting certain unsolicited telephone communications.

These issues were recently presented to the Florida Bar’s Standing Committee on Advertising by a criminal defense firm seeking to use text message in its advertising.  Specifically, the firm requested guidance on its plan …

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NY Ethics Opinion Provides Guidance for LinkedIn Users

LinkedIn is perhaps the go to social media site for professionals seeking to promote their achievements and build their brand.  LinkedIn has carved a niche within the social media landscape by integrating networking capabilities with the specific needs of professionals hoping to build relationships.  Of course, the site also allows users to “endorse” a connection for certain practice areas or to write recommendations as to the user’s skill-set. It is this component of the site that has generated professional ethics issues and opinions. Moreover, the …

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Advertising Via Text is :(

We work in a competitive environment in which professionals seek various methods to reach would-be clients. Social media and other electronic resources may help professionals to connect and establish the brand.  But, your friends at PL Matters routinely warn of the risks of new marketing methods that may infringe upon applicable ethics rules. A New York law firm recently learned that unsolicited text messaging may constitute improper advertising.

In a federal class action lawsuit, a class of plaintiffs alleged that a New York law …

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