The Ethics of Legal Marketing and Law Practice in a Social Media Environment

Faculty: Cynthia Sharp, Attorney at Law

Level of Instruction - All Levels

This program is broken down into 3 one hour modules

Medium: Live

Length of Instruction - Three 60 minute modules
CLE Credits - One MCLE (Ethics/and or Professionalism) per 60 minute session

Hour One:


Many attorneys shy away from SOCIAL MEDIA, exclaiming “I don’t have time for FACEBOOK - I didn’t talk to those people when I was in high school anyway.” or “I don’t understand the big deal about TWITTER - why do I need to know what my cousin’s son ate for breakfast? What’s a TWEET anyway?”

Those attorneys are missing a huge opportunity!!! The effectiveness of both client development and retention is dependent upon the mastery of solid networking and communication skills - online and otherwise. This session will introduce attendees to the basics of Web 2.0 with the objective of taking the mystery out of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blawging and more!

Discussion of the General Concept of the Use of Social Media in the Law Office Context

  • Statistics regarding attorneys’ use of social media
  • Social media as a litigation tool (overview)
  • Marketing with social media (overview)

Practice Tip: Develop expertise in law relating to social media
Clients may need representation on: internal social media policies, civil cases, criminal defense

Detailed discussion of Social Media Platforms - Designed to remove the mystery

  • Website
  • Blawgs
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook

Introduction to the ethical issues of Cloud Computing

Hour Two:


  • Five Steps toward an effective, inexpensive and ethically compliant social media marketing program

Review of Attorney Advertising Rules
Discussion of the latest ethics opinions and case law developments relating to social media in the marketing arena

While the use of social media introduces unique opportunities to the legal profession, it simultaneously opens the door to new, unexplored and most likely unexpected ethical issues. After all, ANY online post that an attorney makes may be a form of communication and/or advertising governed by the ethics rules in most jurisdictions. The ethical risks inherent in the utilization of social media will be outlined and discussed in detail. Don’t let yourself get inadvertently blindsided!

Hour Three:


  • Subpoena Requests
  • Research Tool (Uncover valuable and sometimes embarrassing evidence)
  • Pretexting
  • Tweeting from the jury box
  • Vetting jurors through the internet
  • Discussion of Ethics Opinions
  • Introduction to Research Tools such as JDSupra and Spindle
  • How to cite Social Media Sources


Review of MRPC 5.1 and 5.3

  • Attorney’s Obligation to Supervise Staff
  • Implementing the Policy

The Future (ABA Committee on Ethics 20/20)

The ABA adopted amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct in August of 2012. The rules are designed to address ethical issues that may arise as a result of the legal profession’s use of technology and client development tools. This program will include discussion of the practical implications of these amendments. Focus will be on MRPC 1.1 - Competence, MRPC 1.6 - Confidentiality, and MRPC 1.4 - Communication in the social media and technology arena.