The purpose of this Note is to investigate those rules of ethics which interact with attorney blogs, placing a special emphasis on advertising rules. The central finding is that, under the Supreme Court's current First Amendment jurisprudence, attorney blogs (or, more cleverly, "blawgs") are not subject to regulation by the ethics codes of the ABA or the various state bars. Furthermore, if the Supreme Court were to, for some reason, construe blawgs as falling outside of First Amendment protection, evidence suggests that regulating this new medium would be neither desirable nor effective. Part II outlines the historical framework which underlies regulation of attorney advertising, in an attempt to add some context to the debate over attorney blawgs. Part III compares current ethics rules and jurisprudence on the issue to what is known about blawgs thus far, concluding that blawgs neither fall under the purview of current ethics rules, nor are likely to be subjected to future restrictions given the Supreme Court's First Amendment jurisprudence surrounding attorney advertising. Despite this conclusion, the Note conveys some important practical advice supporting the use of comprehensive disclaimers on attorney blawgs. Part IV advances a short public policy argument derived from an economics-based analysis of the blawgosphere. The Note advances the argument that attempts to regulate blawgs would not only stifle the medium, but could also make the medium more, rather than less, dangerous. Part V uses the experience of blawgs to briefly explore the efficacy of restrictions on attorney advertising as a whole, concluding that the notion of the blawgosphere calls into question the true motives behind such restrictions.
A New Frontier or Merely a New Medium - An Analysis of the Ethics of Blawgs,
Mich. Telecomm. & Tech. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mttlr/vol14/iss2/5