Does Bo Know Football?
Just a few weeks ago, the Florida state bar announced that LinkedIn endorsements may cause a lawyer to violate advertising rules. Several other states have since signaled that they may crack down on this new advertising method.
Frankly, I think the Florida bar is fishing in illegal waters itself. While SCOTUS has allowed reasonable restrictions on lawyer advertising, it has been clear that advertising is still commercial speech protected by the 1st Amendment. The issue here lies with the actions of 3rd parties. Since 1st Amendment protection extends to prevent abuse by any government-backed regulating body, state bars included, no state bar can block reasonable speech that is truthful.
Take this as an example: Client hires attorney for [practice area]. Attorney represents client and receives favorable outcome. Unsolicited by attorney, client tells a friend that attorney did a good job for him in [practice area]. Next, client tweets the attorney's account, saying "Glad I hired this attorney for [practice area]!" In response to client's tweet, a friend calls client and asks about his experience hiring attorney. Finally, client goes on LinkedIn and endorses attorney for [practice area].
At what point did the attorney breach an ethical duty?
Bar Complaint: Attorney's client was just TOO happy
Tough call, obviously. What could the attorney do to prevent such rampant endorsement? Why would the attorney want to prevent it in the first place?
Furthermore, why is the happy client barred from expressing their satisfaction? In any business, you DREAM of that happy customer that can't wait to tell their friends and family about how much they love your business, so why do we say lawyers can't have the benefit of one of these Raving Fans?
What are your thoughts?