South Carolina: Linking Google AdWords to Opposing Party and Counsel Violates Legal Ethics Rules

A South Carolina attorney—who used Google AdWords to link his law firm’s advertisement to the names of an opposing party timeshare company and three attorneys associated with the timeshare company—was prosecuted by the South Carolina Bar for violations of South Carolina’s advertising rules and the Lawyer’s Oath contained in South Carolina Appellate Court Rule 402(k).

The attorney’s use of Google AdWords created a situation such that when an individual searched the Internet for the opposing counsel or the opposing party, there was a likelihood that the attorney’s law firm website would appear in the search results. The South Carolina Lawyer’s Oath pledges fairness, integrity, and civility in all written communications to opposing parties and their counsel.

The matter was settled when the attorney agreed to a public reprimand, the completion of a legal ethics course and payment of costs incurred in the investigation and prosecution of the matter. The South Carolina Supreme Court approved the settlement.

To read the public reprimand and opinion accepting the agreement, click here.

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