How NOT to Deal with a Disgruntled Clients’ Internet Posts…

A client discharged her attorney then posted negative reviews of the attorney on consumer websites. In response, the attorney attempted to defend her reputation, “post[ing] personal and confidential information about the client that [she] had gained in her professional relationship with the client.”

After being charged with violating her client’s confidentiality under Georgia’s Rule 1.6, the attorney conceded the violation, filed a petition for voluntary discipline and sought a Review Panel Reprimand, which is the mildest form of reprimand in Georgia. The Office of the General Counsel of the Bar and the special master in the case recommended the Review Panel Reprimand to the Georgia Supreme Court; however, the Georgia Supreme Court, in a per curiam opinion, rejected the recommendation. The court notes that although it “has not been faced with a violation of Rule 1.6 by means of internet publication,” three other tribunals have handed out harsher sanctions than a reprimand in analogous cases. In those cases, attorneys in Illinois and Oregon posted confidential and personal client information on a blog and a listserv, but not necessarily in response to client criticism. The Georgia Court does not suggest a specific sanction so the ultimate resolution of this case is unclear—it is clear, however, that responding to client criticism via the Internet is probably not the way to go regardless of where you reside.

To read the opinion, click here, and to read more commentary on the case, click here.

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