Below is a summary of the New York State Bar Association’s rules governing advertising and solicitation, which encompass social media usage. You should however check your respective state for the specific rules regulating this topic.
- Only social media channels that are used for business purposes are subject to such rules.
- You are not allowed to portray yourself as a specialist unless certified as such so you are not permitted to put any content under headings that ask you to list your specialties.
- You are responsible for making sure all content that is distributed on your social media channels, even if it is not posted by you, is compliant with the ethics rules.
- It is your duty to remove any content that does not comply with the ethics rules.
- If the unethical content cannot be removed, the lawyer must at least ask the author or person in charge of the content to remove it.
- You may provide general answers to legal questions asked on social media.
- However, you cannot provide specific legal advice on a social media network because it may be interpreted as having created an attorney client privilege.
- You can respond to real time communication requests (chat rooms, instant messages, pop ups etc) for legal assistance but must respond to the inquiry with a private communication (direct message or email). You should just tell the person who sent the inquiry to call or email you.
- Your name and office address must be present on your social media pages
- If there is no way to display your mailing address, you should put a link to your website to show that you tried to comply with the Rules
- Do not exclude the words “experienced, seasoned or skilled” when you are describing a junior lawyer
- Do not include things such as “The best lawyer!” as this may be confusing to prospective clients. Make sure you are monitoring your social media pages for commentary such as this by reviewers
- If you request to be someone’s connection on Linkedin, you should have a disclaimer similar to ” Contacting you or friending you does not create an attorney-client relationship so in your message to me, you should not include anything confidential
- You should include a disclaimer on all of your social media pages that indicates that visiting these pages does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Make sure you put “advertisement only” on all social media pages.
Example: “The information on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. ADVERTISEMENT ONLY”
About the author
Allen Rodriguez is a legal product development strategist who has been serving the legal industry for over 21 years. Over the course of his career, Allen has built a reputation for creating innovative legal services products as well as developing highly effective law firm business and marketing strategies. Allen is a valued speaker on the topics of law marketing, legal services product development, and future of law issues.