When is attorney blogging a “communication” subject to the Rules of Professional Conduct regulating attorney advertising?
The State Bar of California recently weighed in via Ethics Opinion 2016-196. The opinion concludes:
- Attorney blogs are communications subject to legal ethics advertising rules if “the blog expresses the attorney’s availability for professional employment . . . or implicitly through its description of the type and character of legal services offered by the attorney, detailed descriptions of case results, or both”
- A lawyer’s blog that is part of a main law firm website is subject to rules regulating attorney advertising to the same extent the main law firm site is subject to advertising rules.
- A stand-alone blog by an attorney is not subject to advertising ethics rules unless the blog directly or implicitly expresses the attorney’s availability for professional employment.
- A stand-alone blog by an attorney on a non-legal topic is not a communication subject to legal ethics rules if it contains a link to the attorney or law firm’s professional website unless there is extensive or detailed information announcing the attorney’s availability to provide legal services.
The full text of the ethics opinion may be found here.