Header graphic for print
Real Lawyers Have Blogs On the topic of the law, firm marketing, social media, & baseball

Spam blog comments by lawyers an ethics violation?

Lawyer blog spam comments unethicalGood bloggers pick up a steady stream of spam comments to their blog. 99.9% of the spam comments are never seen by the blogger or the public, they are filtered out automatically.

A few spam comments, the ones posted by “people,” get through. I blog for lawyers so the spam comments I get are from lawyers. Unseemly lawyers who appear to care less about their online behavior.

This evening I received a spam comment to a post of mine from April, 2008 from a “Booker DeWitt” The comment read:

I am looking for help finding a [city in Idaho], ID personal injury lawyer. Does anyone know one that they could recommend to me?

The text “[city in Idaho], ID personal injury lawyer” linked to law firm’s website.

I delete from my email virtually all of these sort of spam comment notifications. They rarely, if ever, get to the face of my blog. This evening though I decided to contact the firm.

After all, it seems to me what these lawyers are doing with this posting is unethical.

Rule 7.1 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct, like provisions in other states, proscribes false or misleading communications in advertising your services. “A communication is false or misleading if it: (a) contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law…”

Surely they or someone acting on their behalf are not looking for a personal injury lawyer. In truth they are looking for links to their website for SEO purposes.

Rule 7.2 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct, governing lawyer advertising, provides in part:

Any communication made pursuant to this rule shall include the name and office address of at least one lawyer or law firm responsible for its content.

I didn’t think “Booker DeWitt” was a lawyer in the two lawyer firm, but I looked to make sure. He wasn’t.

I didn’t report the lawyers to the Idaho State Bar. I don’t think in 31 years as a lawyer I have ever reported a lawyer to the bar. Plus it’s the holiday season and all. But I did email the two guys.

Re: Unethical advertising on your firm’s part

Hi A… and B…

You, or someone on your behalf, is posting spam comments on my blog in an effort to promote/advertise your website. The commenter fictitiously says they are looking for a [name of Idaho city], ID personal injury attorney and links that text to your website.

Seems like false and misleading advertising in violation of Rules 7.1 and 7.2 of the Idaho Rules of Professional Conduct. Do you agree?

The comment has been moderated so it does not appear live on my blog, http://kevin.lexblog.com . Do you want me to post it? Doing so would look unseemly for both of us.

I am a lawyer of 31 years, having practiced for 17. This sort of Internet marketing gives lawyers a bad name.

Kevin

Kevin O’Keefe

CEO LexBlog, Inc.

O 206-340-8204 | M 206-321-3627 | E kevin@lexblog.com

Follow @kevinokeefe | LinkedIn | Real Lawyers Have Blogs lexblog.com | lxbn.com

What do you think? Is this unethical conduct? At a minimum, it sure seems lawyers owe the public a heck of lot better than this garbage.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Stephen.