Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Chat Rooms: Open or Closed to Florida Attorneys?

This just in from The Florida Bar ...

Official Notice of Advertising Inquiries from the Board of Governors

"The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Advertising will consider withdrawing or modifying Florida Advertising Opinion A-00-1 regarding attorney participation in chat rooms at the request of The Florida Bar Board of Governors at its meeting to be held via conference call on May 13, 2008. Florida Advertising Opinion A-00-1 concludes that an attorney may not solicit prospective clients through Internet chat rooms, defined as real time communications between computer users.

The Standing Committee on Advertising also will consider adopting a proposed advisory opinion regarding specific questions relating to an attorney's participation in chat rooms based on inquiries from The Florida Bar Board of Governors and a member of The Florida Bar, at a meeting to be held via conference call on May 13, 2008.

Specific questions include whether it is prohibited in-person solicitation for an attorney to obtain a client by responding to a person or group encountered in an on-line chat room, whether an attorney can respond to specific questions posed by chat room participants such as whether anyone knows a lawyer or knows what to do when faced with a specific legal problem, and whether a lawyer may interject advice in an on-line chat involving other participants where bad advice is being given.

There are no drafts for the committee’s consideration at this time. Pursuant to Procedures 4(c) and (d) of The Florida Bar Procedures for Ruling Relating to Lawyer Advertising or Solicitation, comments from Florida Bar members are solicited on the issues presented and on the possible withdrawal or modification of Florida Advertising Opinion A-00-1.

Comments must contain the advisory opinion number or issue, must clearly state the issues for the committee to consider, and may include a proposed conclusion. Comments should be submitted to Elizabeth Clark Tarbert, Ethics Counsel, The Florida Bar, 651 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee 32399-2300, and must be postmarked no later than March 31, 2008."