We cannot overstate the importance of blogging. It is an absolutely critical piece of a law firm’s online presence: there is no getting around it. Most attorneys understand that they must have a blog on their website, but many aren’t sure what they should include on their blog.
If you are wondering what to write about on your blog, you’ll want to take notes on a recent ruling.
The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that advertising rules may be applied to a lawyer’s blog. In the case Hunter v. Virginia State Bar, the blog in question discussed a variety of legal issues—but most of the posts concerned cases that the attorney had won.
The Virginia State Bar charged the attorney with violating Rule 7.1, which prohibits lawyers from making false or misleading statements about their services. The attorney appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court, which ruled that his blog was, in fact, a form of commercial (rather than political) speech. The Court stated that the Virginia Bar could require the attorney to put a disclaimer on his case-related posts.
This case illustrates precisely why we advise attorneys not to write about previous cases on their blog. Writing about your cases can lead to serious ramifications if you inadvertently violate client confidentiality or the rules of professional conduct. And really, there is no need to write about your cases in order to fill blog space. Write your opinion about recent headline-making cases in your practice area. Give readers answers to common legal questions that you get from clients. You can even write about local community events, which gives your blog a more human touch.
What should you take away from this ruling? Just avoid talking about your cases, and you’ll be fine.