Ethical Tips for Lawyers Online: Part Four

We covered LinkedIn in Part 1Facebook in Part 2Twitter in Part 3 and the final installment of “Ethical Tips for Lawyers Online” will tackle Groupon.

With lawyers using online resources more than ever to generate business, communicate with clients and potential clients, interact with other lawyers and the public, and discuss their practice areas, courts and disciplinary authorities around the country are trudging through this social media ethical swamp case by case and some guidance is slowly emerging.

Let’s finish the discussion with Groupon

Several state bars have looked at “daily deal” websites such as Groupon. South Carolina found that attorneys’ use of services like Groupon does not constitute fee-sharing with a non-lawyer, but cautioned that attorneys must make sure that the Groupon offer complies with advertising rules (Rules 7.1 and 7.2 in Ohio).

The Washington State Bar Association agreed, but added that the coupon should include a disclaimer, “to the effect that it is subject to the attorneys’ compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct.”

The New York Bar Association went a step further, finding that the advertisement must make clear that no lawyer-client relationship will be formed until a conflict check is cleared, and that attorneys must be competent to undertake the advertised legal work, and must refund client funds where appropriate.