A Virginia lawyer has been charged with misconduct over legal blog posts on his website.
Horace Hunter is a criminal defense attorney. He writes about some of the cases he's worked on. He also writes about substantive criminal justice issues.
What's come under scrutiny is his discussion of his old cases. Like many state bars, the Virginia State Bar requires lawyers to be truthful in their advertising. They wish to avoid misrepresentation. So, when advertising previous wins attorneys are required to put disclaimers.
What should the disclaimers say? That every case is different, and that a win in a previous case is not predictive of future successes.
Blogs like Hunter's aren't exactly rare - though most haven't drawn the ire of their state bars. Many attorneys have websites now, touting their legal services. A fair share of these websites includes a blog section where the attorney can post updates on laws and their cases.
Attorneys might opt to do so for a variety of reasons. Legal blogging can make an attorney look more knowledgeable about a specific area of law. And, it can demonstrate an attorney's legal prowess, especially when writing about successful cases.
Is this enough to constitute marketing or an advertisement? It seems that's what the Virginia State Bar is alleging, according to The Washington Post.
Should blogging attorneys be concerned?
Maybe. If the Virginia State Bar rules against Hunter, chances are that attorneys in that jurisdiction will need to be extra careful when writing their legal blogs. And it could set an example that other state bars might follow.
- Should Lawyers Worry About Virginia State Bar Crackdown on Firm's Law Blog? (ABA Journal)
- Are Attorneys 'Too Uptight?' Meet 'MyBaldLawyer' (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Will Clients Hire Attorneys on Groupon Now that State Bars Approve? (FindLaw's Strategist)