New Social Media Opinions: West Virginia and Colorado | Legal Ethics in Motion

Source: New Social Media Opinions: West Virginia and Colorado | Legal Ethics in Motion

from the Professional Responsiblity Program at U of Miami Law School:

New Social Media Opinions: West Virginia and Colorado | Legal Ethics in Motion
by Professional Responsibility and Ethics Program (PREP) //University of Miami School of Law

Recently, two more states, West Virginia and Colorado, joined the legal ethics conversation regarding social media, issuing opinions that are generally consistent with most other states’ social media opinions.

In September 2015, the Lawyer Disciplinary Board of West Virginia issued new social media and social networking guidelines titled “Social Media and Attorneys.” Specifically, the Board addressed the following topics: attorney competency, taking down posts, avoiding contact with represented persons, contacting unrepresented persons, monitoring third-party reviews and endorsements, protecting confidentiality, honesty in endorsing other lawyers, researching jurors, friending judges, and avoiding inadvertent lawyer-client relationships.

The Board concluded in part that attorneys may not make statements on social media that the attorney knows or reasonably knows will be disseminated publicly and will have “a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding,” subject to certain exceptions listed in the rule on trial publicity. Additionally, the Board opined that attorneys may accept client reviews but must monitor the reviews for accuracy. Regarding advising clients on their social media presence, the Board concluded that attorneys may advice their clients to change the privacy settings of their social media pages, but attorneys may not instruct their clients to “destroy, alter, or conceal any relevant content on their social media pages.” Instead, attorneys must take the appropriate steps to preserve the information in the event that it is discoverable or relevant to the clients’ cases.
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In a nutshell, both opinions conclude that lawyers must comply with the ethics rules when using social media just as when using other forms of communication.
To read the full West Virginia opinion, click here. To read the full Colorado opinion, click here.

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