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Blogging Your Wins
Posted in Litigation

Lawyers often wonder what information about their own cases they may post on the web. A new decision from the Supreme Court of Virginia states that lawyers may blog about past victories in the courtroom—without their clients’ consent—but must include an advertising disclaimer. The Virginia opinion is the first appellate decision nationwide to address the First Amendment protections of a lawyer’s blog.

In this case, the Virginia Bar brought ethics charges against a Richmond criminal defense lawyer over his firm’s blog. Most of the lawyer’s posts involved his own former cases and specifically listed his firm’s participation. The lawyer also admitted that he only blogged about cases he had won and used his clients’ real names without their consent. The Virginia court ruled, though, that the lawyer did not violate confidentiality principles by discussing public proceedings in current and former client cases: “In that respect, a lawyer is no more prohibited than any other citizen from reporting what transpired in the courtroom.” However, the court did uphold a sanction against the lawyer for failing to label his posts as advertising material.

Two justices dissented, and the lawyer plans to seek review from the U.S. Supreme Court. If the case is accepted, the high court’s opinion will likely become an important landmark in lawyer advertising.

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