Legal Ethics

Lawyer censured for buying keywords for other lawyers and law firms

A North Carolina lawyer has been censured for an Internet ad campaign in which he allegedly bought keywords for the names of other lawyers, law firms and judicial officials.

David Turlington III of Boone continued to buy the keywords even after a 2012 North Carolina ethics opinion deemed the practice to be a violation of state ethics rules, according to a November censure order (PDF) by the Grievance Committee of the North Carolina State Bar. The Legal Profession Blog noted the finding in a recent post.

Google users who typed in the keywords were directed to advertisements purchased by Turlington.

Turlington had claimed that his purchase of any inappropriate keywords was inadvertent and the result of his bulk purchase of keywords suggested by Google. But Turlington’s history of keyword searches suggested he specifically selected and approved several of the keywords, the order said. In any event, the order said, it is Turlington’s duty to scrutinize all keywords.

Turlington is out of the office until Monday, according to a person who answered the phone there. He did not respond to an email sent to his office email account.

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