Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Be careful when replying to online reviews; but also when reading about cases on replies to online reviews

 I have posted a number of times on the issues that arise when lawyers reply to negative online reviews.  (Here are links to the more recent comments on opinions from the ABA (also here and here) and from Florida, and North Carolina.)

I am writing about this again today because I saw a headline in the Legal Profession blog that read "Reciprocal Censure For Response To Negative Online Review" and thought that it would be a novel case.  But it wasn't and the problem is the headline is worded wrong.

As written, it suggests that the lawyer was disciplined for replying to the review; or, in other words, that it would be misconduct to reply to an online review.  That is not the case.  The problem is not that the lawyer replied but HOW the lawyer replied.  The story is not that the lawyer replied, but that the lawyer replied improperly (in this particular case, by disclosing confidential information).

So the story is not that the lawyer was disciplined for replying to the review, but that the lawyer was disciplined for violating the duty of confidentiality.  

And the bottom line is that unless a particular jurisdiction has decided otherwise, lawyers are allowed to reply to negative reviews, but lawyers have to be careful not to violate other rules when they do so.

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