Top 5 Ways Social Media Will Get You Disbarred

April 30, 2016

 

Social media for lawyers has become the legal equivalent of playing with fire. Unfortunately, far too many lawyers and law firms wade into using social media lacking even a cursory understanding of the applicable ethical rules in their jurisdiction.

 

Here are the Top 5 ways social media can get you disbarred, disciplined or fined.

 

1. BARRATRY

 

Ambulance chasing has moved to the internet.

 

A lawyer commits barratry when he solicits professional employment arising out of a particular event or series of events from anyone who has not sought the lawyer’s advice or with whom the lawyer has no family, or past or present attorney-client relationship.ABA Model Rules on Professional Conduct 7.3.

 

For example, assume a lawyer on Facebook sees an old high school friend post she has just been injured in a car wreck and is being transported to the hospital. Without thinking, the attorney posts: “Praying for you. If you need my help with filing a claim, give me a call.” What likely was a genuine desire to help an old friend has become clear case of barratry.

 

Imagine a lawyer sees a friend’s tweet expressing frustration about his attorney’s inability to resolve a contested probate matter quickly. The lawyer tweets back: “Sounds to be me like you have a need for speed. #TopGunForHire.” The responding attorney may have only thought he was being cleaver. Unfortunately, he also has committed barratry. The tweet also could subject the lawyer to discipline for communicating with a person the lawyer knows is represented by counsel as discussed further below. ABA Model Rule 4.2.

 

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