A Virginia criminal defense attorney, who blogs about cases he’s worked on, has been reportedly been charged with misconduct by the Virginia State Bar, the ABA reports.
The charge comes amid concerns by Virginia bar authorities that the attorney’s blog on his firm’s website is actually an advertisement, rather than an informative news and commentary website. Fallout from the charges may cause attorneys to second-guess how they are using social media to promote their practice.
However, the narrow issues at the epicenter of the Virgnia state bar’s inquiry focuses on blog posts commenting on specific results the attorney’s firm had won. Virginia Ethics Rule 7.2 requires that lawyers, when listing previous wins in advertising, include a disclaimer stating that every case is different, and that prior results do not guarantee future success. The criminal defense attorney’s blog did not include these disclaimers.
The Virginia State Bar charges should not cause a chilling effect on lawyers using social media to promote their practice. The charges appear to be directed at the message – not the medium – and specifically focus on the manner in which a law firm can advertise past results. However, attorneys must be mindful their specific State’s bar guidelines for all advertising communications – whether on social media, blog, or firm website.
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