Pa. Bar Association Ethics Committee Provides Guidance to Lawyers About Social Media

The Pennsylvania Bar Association Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility has released an Ethics Opinion on Social Media, explaining to lawyers what they can and cannot do when posting or responding to information and comments on social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Avvo and others. The Opinion, one of the first in the country to broadly address these issues, explains (1) the issues confronting attorneys who use social media, (2) the ethical obligations of attorneys using social media, and (3) what attorneys and their staff may and may not do when dealing with information that their clients post on social networking websites.

I am proud to be one of the principal authors of the Opinion, but must also give special thanks to many people for their invaluable input/comments and insight, including my law clerk, Nora Viggiano, and attorneys Jennifer Ellis, Thomas G. Wilkinson, Dan Harrington, Victoria White, Michael Reed and Michael Temin.

The opinion is the first in the country to broadly address these issues, including: 1. Whether attorneys may advise clients about the content of the clients’ social networking websites, including removing or adding information. 2. Whether attorneys may connect with a client or former client on a social networking website. 3. Whether attorneys may contact a represented person through a social networking website. 4. Whether attorneys may contact an unrepresented person through a social networking website, or use a pretextual basis for viewing information on a social networking site that would otherwise be private/unavailable to the public. 5. Whether attorneys may use information on a social networking website in client-related matters. 6. Whether a client who asks to write a review of an attorney, or who writes a review of an attorney, has caused the attorney to violate any Rule of Professional Conduct. 7. Whether attorneys may comment on or respond to reviews or endorsements. 8. Whether attorneys may endorse other attorneys on a social networking website. 9. Whether attorneys may review a juror’s Internet presence. 10. Whether attorneys may connect with judges on social networking websites. If you would like to read the Opinion, either click here or contact me.

About Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel authors the Technology column in The Philadelphia Lawyer, quarterly magazine of the Philadelphia Bar Association; he also authors the Technology column in Trial Magazine, the official publication of the American Association for Justice (formerly the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA)). Dan is a nationally-known writer and lecturer about technology in law offices and in litigation. Sensing the need for a firm to address the technology needs of attorneys, Dan opened Integrated Technology Services, LLC, which focuses exclusively upon ways for lawyers and legal support staff to handle cases more efficiently. An attorney since 1984, Dan serves in many technology-related positions. He is Vice-Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association Law Practice Management Division and co-chairs its Practice Technology Committe. A solo practitioner, Dan chaired the Computer Committee at Anapol Schwartz in Philadelphia. Dan is also a certified Trainer for LiveNote and certified to support and train Time Matters, CaseMap, TimeMap and LegalFiles.
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