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Legal ethics & blogs : Words of common sense

Kimberly A. Kralowec, a plaintiffs’ class action attorney and publisher of the The UCL Practitioner shares some common sense to to this crazy debate on whether states’ ethics rules are going to clamp down on lawyer blogs.

My blog is not advertising. It’s the equivalent of publishing a treatise or a practice guide, or of writing a focus article for the Daily Journal every day. It is scholarship and it is journalism. The blog’s primary audience is other lawyers. They are who it’s written for, as are most law blogs. If the blog enhances my profile in the legal community, leads to co-counseling relationships, or even generates client contacts, those are happy consequences but they do not transform the blog’s fundamental nature from scholarship into solicitation.

Agree wholeheartedly that blogs such as Kimberly’s, a great one by the way, are akin to treatises – guides for other lawyers to grab off the shelves. And why not look to Kimberly’s blog on California’s Unfair Competition Law. She’s got 12 years of litigation experience at the trial and appellate levels. She’s worked on UCL claims in a wide variety of substantive contexts, including antitrust, consumer finance, retail products, and employment.

What Kimberly is doing is no more advertising than when I would author a chapter for Matthew Bender’s trial law ‘Art of Advocacy’ series.

However, I’m not ready to concede that the principal audience of most blogs is lawyers. Many, if not most, of the newer lawyer blogs, are publishing content of interest to lay people, whether they be consumers, small business people, or corporate exec’s. Now whether that content itself beckons work (commercial speech and subject to ethics rules) or is just informative (non-commercial speech and not subject to ethics rules) is a gray area.

And like I’ve before said if it’s a gray area, just do what you always do. Act ethically. But either way state’s ethics rules are not going to ‘outlaw’ lawyer blogs.

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