Online Reputation Management is a thing. An important thing. But not so important that the Rules of Professional Conduct go out the window when a lawyer manages her online reputation.
Rule 1.6 prohibits a lawyer from disclosing information relating to the representation of client. The rule is much broader than the attorney-client privilege and applies to all information relating to the representation no matter the source.
There are exceptions to the rule. They are:
- the client’s gives informed consent to the disclosure;
- disclosure is impliedly necessary to carry out the representation;
- disclosure is mandated by Rule 1.6(b);
- disclosure is permitted by Rule 1.6(c).
Rule 1.6(c)(3) permits a lawyer to disclose information related to the representation of client:
- to establish a claim or defense on behalf of the lawyer in a controversy between the lawyer and the client; or,
- to establish a defense to a criminal charge or civil claim against the lawyer based on conduct in which the client was involved; or,
- to respond to allegations in any proceeding concerning the lawyer’s representation of the client.
As I’ve previously blogged, a negative online review is not a “controversy between the lawyer and the client” that triggers the exception. Neither is a negative online review a “proceeding” in which allegations have been made against the lawyer. My blog posts, which includes advisory opinions & disciplinary decisions, are here:
- Negative Online Review? What NOT to do
- Negative Online Review? UPDATE!
- Negative Online Review? More of what not to do
As the headlines suggest, the posts focus on what not to do. For instance, don’t reveal client confidences in response to an online review. Don’t post fake positive reviews. Don’t create a fictitious lawsuit in order to get a court to order a website provider to take down a negative review.
Today’s ABA Journal has some great tips related to online clients reviews. They appear in Kelly Newcomb’s post How lawyers can make positive – and negative – online reviews work for them.
Whether on AirBnB, Yelp, Amazon, or myriad other sites, I suspect many lawyers have read through the reviews before making a purchase or reservation. Odds are, potential clients are doing the same before hiring you. Today’s post in the ABA Journal helps to frame not only a lawyer’s professional obligations when dealing with online reviews, but the marketing benefits that come with knowing how best to manage an online reputation.