The FCBA Professional Responsibility Committee will sponsor a CLE on Monday, May 18 from 6:00 – 8:15 p.m. entitled “Staying Virtuous in the Virtual World: Social Media and the Ethical Lawyer.” This program will be held at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, 2020 K St. NW, Washington, DC.
6:00 – 6:05 p.m. Welcome and Introductions
Hope C. Todd, Legal Ethics Counsel, District of Columbia Bar
James McCauley, Legal Ethics Counsel, Virginia State Bar
Daniel Schumack, Partner, Schumack Ryals PLLC, Fairfax, VA
Jeff Kosseff, Associate, Covington & Burling
Gregg P. Skall, Partner, Womble, Carlyle
6:05 – 6:55 p.m. Pitfalls in Using Public-Facing Social Media
The panelists will discuss how the ethics rules apply to Internet-based applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, list-serves, and blogging, including:
- What is social media in context of this CLE?
- The lines between regulated advertising and personal posts.
- The lines between allowable advertising and violations.
- Bad Press: dealing with negative or defamatory postings, or negative ratings, within the bounds of the ethics rules.
- Endorsements, ratings, and testimonials: limits on giving, receiving, soliciting, or using.
6:55 – 7:05 p.m. Break
7:05 – 7:50 p.m. The Dangers of Mixing the Personal and Professional for Lawyers and Their Clients
The panel will discuss problems with providing informal advice social media or in acting rashly by e-mail, particularly in the context of a contested matter, including:
- Inadvertent rendering of advice or solicitation.
- Organizing online crowdsource funding to solicit donations for specific legal work on behalf of an individual or groups.
- The take down: deleting that improvident message (remedial measures v. secretion of evidence).
- Use of social media to research opposing counsel or parties
7:50 – 8:15 p.m. Issues of Constitutional Magnitude
The panel will discuss the risk of discipline in states where the lawyer is not licensed and potential free speech defenses in a disciplinary inquiry, including:
- How to determine which jurisdiction’s ethical rules apply.
- How to avoid the unauthorized practice of law when responding to queries from people in jurisdictions where you are not licensed.
- The reach of the ethics rules into the attorney’s personal life on the Internet.
- Posting comments about judges, ALJ’s or FCC Commissioners.
- Involvement in campaigns or protests for industry, political or social causes.
- The role of the First Amendment in the lawyer’s right to personal expression.
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