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Lawyers should recognize they are duty-bound to clients retained in cyberspace.
The Internet has revolutionized the way we communicate, conduct business, even practice law.
Indeed it has created new and intriguing ethical issues for lawyers, engendering a whole host of questions. 316 (2002) addresses legal issues lawyers face when they participate in legal chat room conversations.
The use of “click through” disclaimers is a useful precaution; however, the effect may be nullified where subsequent interactions are inconsistent with the disclaimer.
Educating the public on legal matters provides an important public service.
Does such participation establish an attorney–client relationship? What are an attorney’s obligations to online clients? Rule 7.1(b) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct allows “in-person solicitation” when the following requirements are met: (1) there are no misleading or false communications; (2) the solicitation does not unduly influence the client; (3) the client is apparently physically and mentally capable of exercising reasonable judgment when selecting a lawyer; (4) the intermediary has no contractual or legal obligations that prohibit him or her from providing solicitation services; and (5) the lawyer employing the intermediary ensures that potential clients are advised of the consideration paid for the service and the effect such payment has on the total legal fee to be charged.
Applying Rule 7.1(b) to chat room discussions and online solicitations, Opinion 316, citing Opinion 302, restricts lawyers from implying “they are disinterested in particular matters when they are not” and requires them to disclose any fees they pay to participate.
Lawyers should be particularly careful of these interactions, as it may be more difficult to ascertain such impairments in an online environment. Inadequate precautions can easily result in serious ethical violations.
Other concerns raised by cyberspace communications include jurisdictional and unauthorized-practice-of-law issues. Although the issue of whether or not an attorney–client relationship has been formed is a question of law, the following general principles provide useful guidance.
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Lawyers must be aware not only of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct and rules governing the unauthorized practice of law, but also of the ethical and practice limitations imposed by the jurisdictions they encounter while online. Many courts have found that neither a retainer nor a formal agreement is required to establish an attorney–client relationship.Tags: Adult Dating, affair dating, sex dating