Ethical Risks of Online Communications by Attorneys

Facebook, Twitter, Firm Websites and Blogs, and Email: Staying on the Right Side of the Ethics Line

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A


Conducted on Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE seminar will explain how courts and state bar associations are addressing the ethical concerns arising from attorney use of social networking sites, law firm websites and blogs, and email. The program will address the regulatory future for client and prospective client communications occurring via the Internet.

Description

Social networking sites, law firm websites and blogs, and email are now the preferred communication and marketing tools for attorneys and firms. However, attorneys who use these tools to communicate with clients, potential clients and even friends and family face serious ethical risks.

Attorneys have faced state bar reprimand, job termination, and adverse case outcomes after complaining about judges and clients on law blogs or posting detailed information about personal activities on Facebook.

There are few clear guidelines from the courts and bar associations on potential ethical violations triggered by Internet communications. Do traditional rules regarding lawyer advertising apply? Does blogging qualify as political speech? If so, can states regulate blogs as commercial speech?

Listen as our panel of attorneys experienced in legal ethics discusses how courts and state bar associations are addressing the ethical issues arising from attorney use of social networking sites, law firm websites and blogs, and email. The panelists will provide their insights on the regulatory future for client and prospective client communications occurring via websites, blogs and email.

READ MORE

Outline

  1. Facebook, Twitter, websites and blogs—current trends for attorneys
    1. Social networking tool
    2. Business development tool/advertising source
  2. Ethics related to online advertising
    1. What ethical rules apply to attorneys advertising through websites, blogs and email?
    2. How can attorneys and law firms implement those rules?
    3. What is the impact of the Internet’s ability to reach prospective clients outside of an attorney’s jurisdiction? Does this change the application/implementation of the rules concerning web-based advertising?
    4. How can attorneys/firms deal with the uncertainty and risk of the choice-of-law rule?
  3. Ethics related to content of blog and social network postings
    1. What ethical rules impact blogging and posts on social networking sites?
    2. If not considered advertising, can blogging be regulated as commercial speech?
  4. Ethics related to email communications
    1. What are the ethical rules affecting e-mail communications with clients and prospective clients?
    2. Is an attorney–client privilege created upon the opening of an email from a prospective client?
    3. How can attorneys protect clients’ privacy rights and attorney–client privilege while utilizing online communication?
    4. Is encryption necessary? If so, how can it be accomplished?

Benefits

The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • What are some of the key ethical concerns for attorneys who use websites, blogs and social networking sites to communicate with clients, prospective clients and the general public?
  • How are the courts and state bar associations currently handling charges of ethics violations involving attorney use of the Internet, email, blogs and social networking sites?
  • How can attorneys protect their clients’ privacy rights and attorney–client privilege in online communications?

Faculty

Michael P. Downey
Michael P. Downey
Partner
Hinshaw & Culbertson

He helps law firms comply with their legal and ethical obligations and advises attorneys on avoiding malpractice claims...  |  Read More

Mark J. Fucile
Mark J. Fucile

Partner
Fucile & Reising

He counsels and trains lawyers, law firms and corporate and governmental legal departments on professional ethics and...  |  Read More

Brett Trout
Brett Trout

Member
Law Offices Of Brett J. Trout

He represents clients in IP and information technology issues. He is the former President of the Iowa Intellectual...  |  Read More

Other Formats
— Anytime, Anywhere

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include program handouts. To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Audio

$297

Download

$297