Legal Ethics

When is a blog lawyer advertising? Proposed California state bar opinion offers guidance

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Legal ethics rules on advertising should apply to attorneys and law firms that publish blog posts as part of a professional website. Likewise, posts that explicitly or implicitly make clear that the author is available to represent clients also should be covered by legal ethics rules, a California State Bar group says.

In a draft opinion (PDF), the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct calls for what the California Bar Journal describes as a bright-line test to determine which legal blogs fall within COPRAC’s purview. Another page on the California State Bar website summarizes the draft opinion.

Not everyone, however, is a fan of the approach taken by the proposed opinion. In a Socially Awkward blog post, Avvo general counsel Josh King says it is overbroad and infringes on attorneys’ First Amendment rights.

COPRAC is accepting comments on the proposed opinion until 5 p.m. on March 23. They should be sent to Angela Marlaud at the State Bar of California, 180 Howard St., San Francisco, CA, 94105, or emailed to angela.marlaud@calbar.ca.gov.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “Virginia Supreme Court holds that advertising rules may be applied to a lawyer’s blog”

ABAJournal.com: “Law firm sues Florida Bar over rules restricting what legal websites and blog posts can say”

ABA Journal: “Firm challenges Florida Bar over website ad limits”

See also:

ABA Journal: “Websites May Trigger Unforeseen Ethics Obligations to Prospective Clients”

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