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Legal Marketing


“most aggressive,” the “most successful,” or the “most” anything, she would be wise to avoid such terminology. Rule 7.4 provides additional guidance for


information that may and may not be included on a firm website or other advertisement. A lawyer may “communicate the fact that the lawyer does or does not practice in particular fields of law” but may not, with the exception of a patent attorney, hold himself out as a specialist in any area.8 The Maryland State Bar Association Committee on Ethics has opined that the use of the term “expert” in place of “specialist” is not in keeping with the spirit of Rule 7.4 and therefore should not be used.9 Some websites provide more substantive informa-


tion including legal information and general or generic legal advice. A lawyer must be cautious of unanticipated reliance on such information or advice by members of the public. If a website offers general legal information or advice, a blog, FAQ (frequently asked questions) or question and answer section, the lawyer should take care that the information is current and accurate, a disclaimer should alert members of the public that the information is based on Maryland (or other applicable) law and that


8 Websites such as LinkedIn which encourage attorneys to fill in information about their “specialties” may run afoul of Rule 7.4.


9 See MSBA Committee on Ethics, Ethics Docket 00-21.


the information on the website is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon.10 When advertising a prior record, results obtained or


blogging about their law practice, lawyers should be careful not to violate Rule 1.6, which prohibits a lawyer from revealing information relating to the representation of a client unless a client gives informed consent11 to the disclosure. In In the Matter of Kristine Ann Peshek, Ms. Peshek, an Illinois public defender, was fired from her job and suspended from the practice of law for 60 days as a result of her blogging. In her blog, Ms. Peshek discussed her hobbies and her law practice. She identified her clients by their first names or jail identification numbers and revealed confidential information including the fact that a client had lied to the court, another client was “stoned” in court and a third was “taking the rap for his drug-dealing dirt bag of an older brother.” The disciplinary authorities found that the clients could be identified based on the information provided and that Ms. Peshek violated the rules of confidentiality, among


others.12 10 See ABA Formal Op. 10-457 (2010) citing Arizona State Bar Op. 97-04 (because of inability to screen for conflicts of interest and possibility of disclosing confidential information, lawyers should not answer specific legal questions posed by laypersons in Internet chat rooms unless the question presented is of general nature and advice given is not fact-specific).


11 Informed consent is defined in Rule 1.0(f) as “the agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct.”


12 See also Nev. Comm. on Ethics & Prof. Responsibility, Formal Op. 41 (2009) (strictly reading the rule of confidentiality and warning practitioners to consider the implications of seemingly


Trial Reporter / Winter 2014 19


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