Despite the strong tradition in the law of not advertising for legal services, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as well as the Arkansas Rules of Professional Conduct recognize that the interest in expanding public information about legal services trump that tradition. However, that is not the case in many states where, in some cases, lawyers have been advised to avoid certain types of interactive websites or risk what has been dubbed a "one-click ethics violation."
This article seeks to explain how attorneys can use social networking sites without violating any rules of professional conduct. Additionally, the article proposes a modification of the current rule structure so that attorneys no longer have to choose between avoiding emerging methods of communicating or risking a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
The article begins with an overview of the usage of and terminology relating to the two most popular social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter. Next, the article provides an overview of the Rules of Professional Conduct that Relate to lawyer communication. Then, the article categorizes various types of interactions on social networking sites under the Rules of Professional Conduct, and subsequently addresses various issues that can arise in the context of the use of social media for client development. Finally, the article suggests some general principles that could be considered in revising the Rules of Professional Conduct to consider social networking sites.
The article concludes that rules relating to advertising should be reconsidered with the purpose of the rules, assisting the public in obtaining legal services, in mind. Ultimately, the author proposes that the rules should be revised to either target specifically the communications that are deceptive, or to more broadly ban deceptive or overbearing communications.
Friending and Following: Applying the Rules of Professional Conduct to Social Media,
34 U. Ark. Little Rock L. Rev. 551
Available at: http://lawrepository.ualr.edu/lawreview/vol34/iss3/4