Preview of Article for Volume 41, Issue 1

Article Abstract:

This article uses genre theory to analyze the ethical issues faced by lawyers who blog. As the number of blogs by lawyers ("blawgs") has increased, the blawg genre has become well defined. Like all blogs, a blawg is characterized by "reverse chronology, frequent updating, and combination of link with personal commentary." And like all blogs, a blawg resides uneasily in a hybrid public/private space. These characteristics can raise ethical issues and present ethical temptations. Among the issues blawgers must confront are vicarious liability resulting from multiple or delegated authorship and anonymous blawging. Another ethical issue that looms large for blawgers is the use of blawgs as marketing tools and the potential regulation of blawgs as advertising. The dangers of forming an attorney-client relationship, dispensing legal advice, and receiving confidential communications through the blawg have led to the development of elaborate disclaimers and the restriction of dialogue on blawgs, helping define a new subgenre of blog. Finally, blawgers face the temptation to disclose ethically protected client information and the potential for development of positional conflicts through views expressed on the blawg. In practical terms, understanding the generic characteristics of blawgs should help a blawger avoid these ethical pitfalls.