Attorneys: Beware of Blogging about Clients, says American Bar Association
So many lawyers are blogging and writing social commentary that the American Bar Association last week issued an opinion on the limitations, rules, and guidelines designed to guard against the disclosure of client information.
The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility have issued Opinion 480, which outlines the professional conduct that must be applied to blogging attorneys who might publish protected information without the consent of the client. The opinion says that lawyers are barred from commenting publicly about client representation unless “unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b)” applies to a particular situation.
Opinion 480’s intent is to give guidance and set parameters on the vast flow of information and opinions that attorneys are regularly making available on the internet. The opinion will also help guide state licensing agencies to interpret their own rules of professional conduct, according to the ABA.
The opinion is designed to protect confidentiality and warns lawyers against using hypotheticals in blogging when there is a “reasonable likelihood” that a third party might ascertain the identity of a client or determine facts from a hypothetical.