Internet Ethics and Netiquette for Attorneys and Law Firms
E-mail & Web Sites Qualify as Advertising in California
by Carole Levitt J.D., M.L.S.
Most attorneys are familiar with the term “neti-quette,” which is the code of proper behavior online. Basic netiquette applies as much to the legal professional as it does to a lay person, but more specific rules have been crafted to guide the online behavior of attorneys. As early as 1996, many state bar associations began issuing opinions on Internet ethics, often focusing on law firm Web sites. Most of the rules and opinions relating to online communications apply the advertising rules that already exist for print advertising. The State Bar of California has issued only one opinion on Web site ethics. The principles behind the opinion, which was issued in 2001, may be applied to other online forms of communication, including e-mail, URLs and domain names, e-mail addresses, online articles, discussion groups, and chat rooms.
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