Thursday, February 10, 2011

Anonymous blogging might still get you disbarred

This is something to think about, while blog readers anxiously await return to the discussion of whether blogs used as advertising can be constitutionally regulated.

How does this relate to blogging? With my lawyer blogging glasses on, I see serious issues in the future in the realm of anonymous lawyer blogs. These types of blogs are blogs that the blogger does not reveal their real name or identity. The blogger may reveal the city they are in, but all other information is either changed or kept private. The reason behind anonymous blogging is obvious for a lawyer: lawyers are under strict scrutiny by their respective state bar associations. If they blog anonymously, they can reveal information they would otherwise never be able to let leave the confines of the law firm.

Here is an example of such a blog. A quick read of this blog shows the crux of the reason behind remaining anonymous: the ability to share client confidences. If this blog were not anonymous, it would raise serious questions under Model Rule 1.6 . Professional Responsibility 101 is that you don't share client confidences. Even lay people, who have never sat in on a law school PR class can tell you this rule. So what makes this blogger safe from this rule? Anonymity.

So what would happen if the identity of such a blogger was no longer anonymous? At the very core of this article is the fact that sites like google have the capability of telling everyone on the world wide web exactly who you are, through the ISP address. In the Google case, people (such as attorneys and clients) believed they were protected behind their computer screens, but that was not the case. Even if those that were harmed were later compensated, what would happen to someone who violated an ABA rule? If an attorney divulges client confidences, even in an anoymous setting, it would be difficult to argue that the attorney was not violating the rule. The "I thought I was invisible" argument would be too little too late.

Lastly, this comment by the CEO of Google struck me, and, in my mind, is something that needs to be remembered, practiced, and recited by attorneys: If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

No comments:

Post a Comment