CBA Guidelines on Using Electronic Marketing

Today’s CBA E-News contains a link to a report described as:

The CBA’s Ethics and Professional Responsibility Committee presents a new report interpreting the CBA’s Code of Professional Conduct in the context of the new media. Your presence in the e-world: Guidelines for Ethical Marketing Practices Using New Information Technologies covers everything from e-mail tag lines to blog etiquette to web-based lawyer referral services.

It is only a guideline – as provincial law society rules are what actually govern. For the most part, it encourages lawyers to use social media – but cautions that the usual rules apply.

For example. Avoid claims about competence, guaranteed results, or fees. Don’t mislead, and don’t do anything that is undignified or offensive. It also reminds of the differences between giving legal information, vs. giving legal advice.

One comment caught my eye as being impractical if taken literally:

A web site, blog, posting on a social networking site, and other e-communications should always identify the jurisdiction(s) where the lawyer is licenced to practice. The geographic location of the lawyer’s office and the province or territory licencing the lawyer’s practice should have a place of prominence that can readily be seen by site visitors.

Including one’s location in every Tweet, or in every comment one makes on other sites just won’t work. One would hope that in practice it would be sufficient if one’s location is in, for example, one’s Twitter profile. Or if we comment on another site and identify ourselves, that a link back to our blog, or giving our Twitter name would suffice.

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Comments

  1. Thank you for posting this. The report also cautions about giving free “legal advice” online. I was wondering if anyone knows of a case where an Internet user sued a lawyer for answering a legal question on a forum, on twitter, or in a blog.

  2. There are US cases where a lawyer has been prosecuted for unauthorized practice in a jurisdiction where the lawyer’s web site was accessible but where the lawyer was not licenced to practice. Here is an article on “Avoiding the Unauthorized Practice of Law (UPL) in other Jurisdictions with a Virtual Law Office” (this is only part one of the article.)