In Technology and Ethics: Online Marketing and Networking, GPSolo Magazine October/November 2010, JD Supra Founder Aviva Cuyler, presents some excellent ethical considerations for legal professionals using online marketing tools and strategies.
Search, social media, content publishing, open discussion forums…each is an opportunity to grow your reputation and practice in th direction your passions lead.
Yet, this new transparency also carries with it the very real potential for the opposite: myriad opportunities (digitally documented) to run afoul of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Worse yet, missteps not only travel with lightning speed across the web, they remain forever archived.
The article addresses several areas of online legal marketing including Social Media, Websites, Online Publishing, and Directory Listings and Profiles.
As a law firm web strategist, staying on top of the ethical considerations surrounding marketing a law practice is critical to my ability to advise clients as to which strategies are both ethical and effective. While there are many tactics that clearly violate the professional rules in terms of misrepresentation and solicitation, as the author points out, there are many more that aren’t as quite as clear. And unfortunately, as ethics committees across the country deal with these ethics-tech issues, the rules are in a state of flux.
In my humble opinion, in order to survive, lawyers need to participate online. However, as with any new tool in their arsenal, they ought to tread with caution, “keep their ethical obligations in mind”:http://www.lawmarketingmonitor.com/law-firm-websites/aba-law-firm-website-ethics/ at all times, and get an understanding of the impact that a particular tool or strategy may have on their professional reputation.
Like television and radio before it, each and every legal professional will need to make a decision about how they want to portray themselves online.