Attorneys practicing law online and licensed in North Carolina may be interested in checking out the fall issue of the North Carolina State Bar Journal. Several of the articles in the issue cover topics related to attorneys creating online presences, including avoiding ethical risks for law firm websites and using social networking, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging.
As with most state bar publications covering topics related to technology, at least one of the articles comes with a stern reminder to follow the Rules of Professional Conduct and advises attorneys to consult with the ethics counsel at the State Bar before attempting to use any social networking as a marketing tool. Wise advice. I’ll freely admit that I took advantage of the ability to call the ethics hotline a few times both while working at a small firm and when I first went out as a solo with a virtual law practice. The service is anonymous and a great way to get the reassurance and confidence you might need before taking any action. There are more formal methods of getting written ethics advisory opinions, but being able to make a quick phone call for small matters, many of which may just be affirmation of good common sense, is a valuable service from the Bar.
With the lines between the personal and professional being so thin with many popular forms of online social networking, it’s good to know you can check with someone from the Bar who handles ethics issues on a daily basis. It’s a “measure twice, cut once” philosophy and serves well for any professional placed in a position of trust by members of the general public.