Ethical Questions Raised by New Technology and Out-of-State Speaking

QUESTION:

I am a Mass lawyer trying to navigate new technology. I have started a separate company that provides “law-related services”, but I am not using that company to give legal advice. (That company has developed software that works like a TurboTax program.) Am I allowed to accept outside advertisements from non-lawyers on the website for that company to help defray costs since it is not a law firm site and not engaged in the practice of law?

I also have been asked to speak out of state (for free) about law-related issues – not specific cases but just a summary of the current law in a particular area. Am I allowed to do that? Can I do that via a podcast? Would I be allowed to do that and accept a fee? Thanks.

ANSWER:

Thank you for contacting Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Inc. which provides free and confidential help to attorneys seeking mental health services for issues ranging from depression, stress and burnout, to career and practice concerns.  Unfortunately, your question primarily concerns the ethics of practicing law. WeI would suggest that you consult the Office of Bar Counsel’s web-site which includes a section on frequently asked questions, a series of articles, and lists a telephone number, 617-728-8750, for their ethics hot line (Monday, Wednesday and Friday 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.).  The site also contains the Rules of Professional Conduct which may fully resolve your questions about the ethics of marketing through speaking engagements.  You may also want to peruse the web site of our affiliated Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP), and possibly join its free Lunch Hour Legal Marketing webinar as part of your effort to gather information about speaking out of state.  If those sources do not answer your questions then you may want to hire an attorney who has expertise in ethics.

We’re sorry that legal ethics question are beyond the purview of LCL itself, but we encourage you and other web site visitors to contact us with any queries that fall within LCL’s scope (see “We Can Help With” on our home page).

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