16 Jul VA Ethics Panel Allows Legal Blogging
In a recent decision by a three judge panel, a Virginia disciplinary committee’s findings of misconduct under Rule 1.6, governing confidentiality of client information, was overturned. The case arose out of blog posts written by a Richmond criminal defense attorney, Horace Hunter, describing cases he “successfully handled.” However, the panel did uphold the committee’s finding that Hunter violated Rules 7.1 and 7.2, governing lawyer advertising. It required that Hunter place a warning on his blog that the results are not guaranteed and that every case is different.
This was an important case to come down and helps clarify the burgeoning role of legal-blogging as a marketing tool for solo-practitioners and small firms. As it stands today, the general consensus among legal bloggers seems to stand: do not identify cases or clients in ways that are may endanger client anonymity or breach confidences. Practitioners now have a clear mandate to warn potential clients that the results touted in blog posts cannot be reproduced and remind readers of the inherent uncertainty of litigation.