I’ve said before that reciprocal endorsements might be a problem in Virginia under Rule 7.2(c):
A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services except that a lawyer may…
(exceptions are for advertising costs, non-profit lawyer referral services, and buying a law practice)
I decided to contact our ethics folks to see if I was crazy. Here’s my email to them:
With the rise of Facebook, and now Google’s “+1″, there’s a temptation for attorneys to ask each other to “Like” (Facebook) or “+1″ (Google) our websites. In return, the attorney says they’ll reciprocate.
Is it allowed for an attorney to say: “If you ‘Like’ my page on Facebook, I’ll ‘Like’ yours in return?” (Or the same thing for Google’s +1 or a similar service?)
To me, this violates 7.2(c), since the “Like” or “+1″ has marketing value for the attorney.
Please let me know.
Here’s the state bar ethics response. But first, please note this is an informal, quick response from the ethics folks. It’s not official, and it’s not binding on anyone.
Yes, Rule 7.2(c) prohibits a lawyer from rewarding another for recommending the lawyer’s employment. Cross-endorsements are a quid pro quo arrangement that would violate the rule. Very similar to ‘lead-sharing’ which we addressed in LEO 1846.
In other words, to all Virginia lawyers – I’d think twice before engaging in reciprocal endorsements (“If you Like my Facebook page, I’ll Like yours.”).
I’m considering asking for a formal ethics opinion to get a final answer on this issue.
For the record, I don’t have anything personally against reciprocal social media endorsements. It would be great if Virginia would allow that sort-of thing.
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