This post is the final installment of a series titled “Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Lawyers.” Click here to view all the installments.
DO Follow the Ethical Code Regarding Social Media Responsibility in your State’s Ethics Rules
Various states have started to address social media in their ethical guidelines and opinions for attorneys. While each state is different, the American Bar Association has spoken out about the topic and discussed the various ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct that apply when an attorney is using social media.
These rules include:
- ABA Model Rule 7.3 Solicitation of Clients. Attorneys need to be aware of what is considered a unauthorized solicitation of a client using social media. For example, a solicitation would include a LinkedIn “invitation”, from an attorney to a non-lawyer with no pre-existing relationship, to provide legal services.
- ABA Formal Opinion 462. Attorneys should not make the assumption that friending a judge on social media complies with the jurisdiction’s code of ethics.
- ABA Duties to a Prospective Client 1.18. Communication with a non-lawyer may give rise to an attorney-client relationship. Attorneys must be aware that they could inadvertently create this relationship.
- ABA Model Rule 5.5 Unauthorized Practice of Law and ABA Model Rule 8.5 Disciplinary Authority. A lawyer must be cautious when posting on social media because it can be accessed by any person in any geographical location. These types of communications may not be allowed under the ethical guidelines of the jurisdiction in which the non-lawyer resides.
The rules discussed above are just a few that touch on the issue of social media and attorneys. Be sure to check your jurisdiction(s) ethical guidelines in order to ensure your social media endeavors comply.