Broad language – but note first amendment constraints
“Stay informed & inform”: Raises few issues (except with respect to solicitation). “Expand Referral Network”: For corporate counsel, this means expanding the network of potential employers, employees or business partners.“Increase Online Footprint”: Important for reasons related to expanding your referral network, but also for reputation management.
Watch out for social media updates involving your “availability for professional employment.”
Why blogging is good for lawyers My personal experience: Networking and professional satisfaction Makes me a better lawyer NOT a form of advertising Lots of approaches, as seen on next few slides Solo/small firm Big firm Niche practices Group blogs
7.1 prohibits false and misleading advertisements; 7.3 prohibits in-person, telephonic and real-time electronic solicitation
47 states. Many similar models, including Google’s AdWords, operate on a pay-per-click or pay-per-lead basis.
Adopted by ABA Ethics 20/20 Commission in 2012. Response to Zelotes and others who claimed that performance-based advertising violated the rules. Likely not a part of state bar rules yet.
As long as the ads aren’t deceptive, it’s no different than “proximity advertising” offline. FL & NC have reached the opposite conclusion, assuming deceptivity.Far better for consumers to have access to as much non-deceptive information as possible.
Avvo is the biggest, but consider as well in context of Twitter, Facebook comment streams
Issues raised: Formation of attorney-client relationship? Non-issue. Disclaimed on site, in most lawyer answers and – most importantly – there inherently cannot be any formation of attorney/client relationship when the client is anonymous. No way to check conflicts, no way to meet duties, no way to have client relationship of trust and reliance. Doesn’t implicate ABA Model Rule 1.18 either, due to anonymity. Multi-jurisdictional practice?
Note that attorneys can’t practice law in violation of another state’s law . . . and the restriction on practicing law typically just prohibits establishing an office, misrepresenting the state of licensure or any systematic and continuous presence in the jurisdiction for the practice of law.Is answering questions online the “practice of law?”Decision – answering question at CLE conference does not constitute the provision of legal adviceAs legal advice is not normally provided in public, the use of a public forum to provide generic guidance will not be deemed to be the practice of law.Out-of-state LicensureFirst, state licensure is no guarantee of competenceABA Model Rule 5.5 – violation of MJP rules only occurs when practice in non-licensed state is systematic and continuous.Focus is on the physical location of the attorney, not the client
Raleigh attorney John Kirby. Suspended 6 months in 2011.Issues: Misrepresentation Fee-splitting with Just Answers. Out-of-state practice (advising on laws of other states) Note that payment of fees and private nature of questions makes the JA model much more likely to be the “practice of law”
Remember: A daily deal offer is a form of marketing; the advertising cost is the revenue split with the deal site operator.Whether it’s a daily deal or not isn’t important – the issue is with packaged legal services where the fee is collected by a third party site operator.
8 states have looked at this, and 5 (MD, NE, NC, SC & NY) have said it’s OK. 3 (AL, IN & PA) have said no dice.
This is probably why you don’t see any Groupon offers from lawyers anymore . . .
Disclosures should advise clients not to proceed hastily, that no attorney-client relationship is formed by simply buying the offer, and that their money will be refunded if services aren’t a fit or there is a conflict On refunds, the portion payable to the site is the attorney’s marketing expense, and would not be netted out of a refund to the client.
Or “Limited Scope Representation”
Expand the legal market and bring services to those who couldn’t otherwise afford bespoke legal services.
Delivered online rather than installed directly onto a user's computer. Lots of handwringing over “the cloud”, but ultimately attorneys must simply use reasonable care to evaluate the reliability and security of cloud software. Odds are that major platforms are both more secure and more reliable than downloaded software or physical files.
Transcript of "Working the Web: Delivering Legal Services Online"