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.
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.