PLEASE NOTE:  Publication for public comment is not, and shall not, be construed as a recommendation or approval by the Board of Trustees of the materials published.

SUBJECT:

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001 (Social Networking).

BACKGROUND:

The State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct (COPRAC) is charged with the task of issuing advisory opinions on the ethical propriety of hypothetical attorney conduct. In accordance with Tab 19, Article 2, Section 6(g) (as modified by Tab 12, Title 1, Division 2, Rule 1.10) of the State Bar Board Book, the Committee shall publish proposed formal opinions for public comment.

DISCUSSION/PROPOSAL:

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001 considers: Under what circumstances would an attorney’s postings on social media websites be subject to professional responsibility rules and standards governing attorney advertising?

The opinion interprets rules 1-400 of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California; and Business and Professions Code sections 6106, 6151, 6152, and 6157 through 6159.2.

The opinion digest states: Material posted by an attorney on a social media website will be subject to professional responsibility rules and standards governing attorney advertising if that material constitutes a “communication” within the meaning of rule 1-400 (Advertising and Solicitation) of the Rules of Professional Conduct of the State Bar of California; or (2) “advertising by electronic media” within the meaning of Article 9.5 (Legal Advertising) of the State Bar Act. The restrictions imposed by the professional responsibility rules and standards governing attorney advertising are not relaxed merely because such compliance might be more difficult or awkward in a social media setting.

At its March 23, 2012 meeting and in accordance with its Rules of Procedure, the State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct tentatively approved Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001 for a 90-day public comment distribution.

ANY KNOWN FISCAL/PERSONNEL IMPACT:

None

ATTACHMENT:

Proposed Formal Opinion Interim No. 10-0001

SOURCE:

State Bar Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct

DEADLINE:

5 p.m., July 2, 2012

DIRECT COMMENTS TO:

Angela Marlaud
Office of Professional Competence, Planning and Development
State Bar of California
180 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94105-1639
Ph. (415) 538-2116
Fax (415) 538-2171
E-mail: angela.marlaud@calbar.ca.gov