Proposed KBA rule to extend their jurisdiction over your Facebook comments…

LawReader recently received a comment on a proposed KBA ethics rule that places FaceBook postings under the control of the KBA..   The anonymous author is apparently a lawyer, and sees this proposed rule as a further extension of the control of the KBA over lawyer’s personal lives. You may want to comment on this rule.  See directions below.

Message to LawReader:

“The KBA recently proposed the following amendment to the regulations of the attorneys’ advertising commission that will bring Facebook within their jurisdiction:

 Communications made by a lawyer using a social media website, that are of a non-legal nature are not considered advertisements; however, those that are of a legal nature are governed by SCR 3.130-702(1)(j) [defining “advertise”]. …..  “Advertise” means to furnish any information or communication containing a lawyer’s name or other identifying information, and an “advertisement” is any information containing a lawyer’s name or other identifying information, except the following …. Information and communication by a lawyer to members of the public in the format of web log journals on the internet that permit real time communication and exchanges on topics of general interest in legal issues, provided there is no reference to an offer by the lawyer to render legal services.

So, if you list your employment and education under the info tab as an attorney, is that a communication of a legal nature?  Should we hide the fact that we are attorneys? 

Technically, as written, simply listing your name brings an attorney within the purview of the rule.  Should we use an alias?  What’s the difference between Facebook and a web log journal?  Facebook permits real time communication and exchanges on any topic, legal or non-legal.  With a lab-top, blackberry or I-phone, while stuck in Court waiting for a case call, you can respond quicker to Facebook inquires than you can respond to the fifty voicemails waiting for you back at the office. Or, you can do cross word puzzles or sudoku.

 If a chimpanzee mauls one of my friends will simply posting a “get well soon, let me know if I can be of any assistance” comment on the friend’s wall be considered an offer to render legal services.  Probably, under the new rule; however, if I wrote a 10,000 word essay on the liability aspects of keeping chimps as pets, this would be a topic of general interest and permissible under the new rule.  If I attach a profile badge to a commissioned approved website, does that bring me within compliance under the new rule?  If I attach a profile badge to a non-commissioned website is this a violation?   If one of my attorney friends violates the new rule, with the posting appearing on my news-feed, must I report them per the snitch rule.

 Why is this rule change necessary if I’m just talking to my friends.  I was once told by an attorney, who shall remain anonymous, but is tagged in this note, that we are not in the law business to make friends.  Are we even allowed to have friends? Apparently the answer is no.              

 KBA Members wishing to comment on the proposed regulations must do so in writing. 

Written comments must be sent on later than December 15, 2010 to the Attorney’s Advertising Commission, c/o KBA Executive Director, 514 West Main Street, Frankfort, KY  40601-1812. 

 Facebook notes, comments, tweets, etc., don’t count.”

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