Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Website Puffery Results In Reprimand

An attorney has been publicly reprimanded by the South Carolina Supreme Court for misconduct described in the court's order:

Upon admission, respondent opened a solo practice, handling primarily domestic and criminal matters.  Between July 2010 and July 2011, respondent consulted with 93 potential clients.  He opened 79 client files and resolved 25 cases by settlement, guilty plea, or completion of non-litigation legal work (i.e., drafting a deed).  Representation of 15 of the opened files ended without resolution of the clients' legal matters.  As of July 2010, respondent had never handled any matter involving contested litigation to jury verdict. 

In August 2010, respondent began using a law firm website at www.divorcelawyercolumbia.com.  In December 2010, respondent added a website at www.dmd-law.net to his law firm marketing.  Respondent began using these websites without adequate review of the relevant provisions of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct. 

The websites contained the following rule violations:        

1.  material misrepresentations of fact and omissions of facts necessary to make the statements considered as a whole not materially misleading by mischaracterizing respondent's legal skills and prior successes; falsely stating he handled matters in federal court; falsely stating he graduated from law school in 2005; and, listing approximately 50 practice areas in which he had little or no experience;

2. statements likely to create unjustified expectations about the results respondent could achieve;

3.  statements comparing respondent's services with other lawyers' services in ways which could not be factually substantiated; and

4.  descriptions and characterizations of the quality of respondent's services. 

In addition, respondent set up internet profiles on various online directories and professional marketing sites, including www.lawyers.com, www.lawguru.com, and www.linkedin.com.  Respondent relied on company representatives who were lawyers and non-attorney web designers who assured him that the advertisements would comply with respondent's ethical requirements.  Respondent did not review the applicable provisions of the South Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct prior to posting the internet profiles.  As a result, respondent's internet profiles contained the following:

1.  material misrepresentations of fact by overstating and exaggerating respondent's reputation, skill, experience, and past results;

2.  a form of the word "specialist" even though respondent is not certified by this Court as a specialist;

3.   statements likely to create unjustified expectations about the results respondent could achieve; and

4.  descriptions and characterizations of the quality of respondent's services.

The attorney was admitted in May 2010. The discipline was imposed by consent. (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2012/02/an-attorney-has-been-publicly-reprimanded-by-the-south-carolina-supreme-court-for-misconduct-described-in-the-courts-order.html

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Comments

Interesting report, shed light on a case im looking into at the moment, thanks

Posted by: Website Design York | Feb 8, 2012 10:59:45 AM

I'm sure cases like this happen all the time with those website "specialists". Is there any background checks that are being done by the sites to prevent this? Do you think there's anything they can do better to stop cases like this from happening?

Posted by: Imblum | Sep 7, 2012 11:10:25 AM

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