When is a Blog Subject to the Attorney Advertising Rules?

The State Bar of California’s Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct, recently released a draft of an interim opinion that serves to address under what circumstances blogging by an attorney is considered a form of advertisement that may be subject to the requirements and restrictions of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

California attorneys are required to abide by Rule 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California, which primarily governs attorney advertising.  The Committee decided that attorneys’ blogs are subject to the requirements and restrictions of Rule 1-400 and the related provisions of the Business and Professions Code if “the blog expresses the attorney’s availability for professional employment directly through words of invitation or offer to provide legal services, or implicitly through a description of the attorney’s legal practices and successes in such a manner that the attorney’s availability for professional employment is evident.”

Furthermore, the Committee contended that a blog that appears on an attorney’s or a law firm’s professional website “is subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising to the same extent as the website of which it is a part.”

However, the Committee found that attorneys’ non-legal blogs are not subject to the rules regulating attorney advertising even if the blog contains a link to the attorney or law firm’s professional website, provided the attorney author does not actively use the blog to solicit business as an attorney.

Visit here to view a copy of the Formal Opinion Interim #12-0006.

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