The Virginia State Bar on Tuesday ruled against Richmond attorney Horace Hunter in the state’s first case of its kind involving lawyer blogging and whether it violates attorney advertising rules.
Hunter must add a disclaimer to his blog within 30 days to make clear that it’s advertising, the bar’s disciplinary committee said. Hunter blogs on his law firm’s Web site about cases he’s worked on and other criminal justice issues. The bar issued a formal charge against him in March, alleging that since one purpose of a law firm’s Web site is to market the firm and attract business, any discussion of cases must include a disclaimer “that puts the case results in a context that is not misleading.”
Hunter had argued that the blog is news and commentary, and the bar’s attempt to get him to tack on a disclaimer violates his First Amendment rights.
Hunter received a public admonition, the lowest possible sanction.
State bar counsel Ed Davis declined to comment.
Also at issue in the case was whether Hunter posted information on the blog that was detrimental or embarrassing to his clients, including using a pseudonym to blog about a juvenile client.
Hunter said he got his clients’ consent before posting information about their cases, but the bar ordered him to remove the information before the 30-day deadline. Hunter said he plans to appeal the decision.