Tomorrow the ABA will have an interesting teleconference and live audio webcast: Blogging: Ethical Considerations for the Lawyer, Legal Implications for the Client. Details are available here. Here’s the program description:
The advent of blogs has affected the legal profession on all fronts. From a business development perspective, there is a hazy intersection between legal commentary and law firm marketing. In practice, clients are often faced with issues ranging from malicious posts from disgruntled customers and competitors, to striking a balance between an employee’s freedom of expression, and inappropriate remarks that might be identified as that of the employer.
This program will look at the development, content, and marketing of lawyer blogs, including appropriate topics, ideas for posts, participation in blogging communities, and optimizing blogs for search engines. Ethical considerations in regard to the rules of professional responsibility will be examined, with specific focus on Sections 7.1-7.5 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
In addition, the program will address:
Business advantages to blogging
Using a blog to complement other law firm business initiatives
Understanding legal issues related to blogging that are affecting your clients
I wish I could participate, but I have a day job and the conference runs from 1300 to 1430 East Coast time. The good news is that two weeks after the conference, a recording will be available for purchase.
Speaking of my day job, I am reevaluating my participation on this blog because I now practice before two of the courts whose case law we routinely discuss. Is the duty of loyalty to one’s client likely to result in circumscribed candor when discussing cases? What are the ethics of discussing one’s own cases on a blog? You may remember that back in March, one anonymous commentator argued:
This blog seems to constantly use the bait and switch approach to swooningly praise these Navy and Marine (and Court of Appeals) judges and wax over the statistical unlikelihood that the judges are reading this site for routine rulings, then throwing topics in front of the judges that are constantly under their consideration and which you wish would be found more frequently in your favor. Doesn’t this verge dangerously close to attempting to influence the judges and also near the ABA Model Rule 3.5 ex parte communications (even if the cases aren’t ongoing, there must be motions for oral argument that you all are frustrated over?).
At the time, I was able to respond: “I haven’t practiced before either NMCCA or CAAF since 2003, so I don’t think I could engage in ‘ex parte’ communication as that term is typically used.” But now I do practice in front of military courts. The other day Sacramentum discussed a case on which I’m currently working. I disagreed with Sacramentum’s take on the case (I know, shocking!), but I haven’t posted about it due to a certain unease over writing publicly about an on-going case in which I am a counsel.
I’ll be very interested to hear (in two weeks) whether the participants in tomorrow’s teleconference address these and similar topics. Do any of you have advice?