On April 10, 2020, the Pennsylvania Bar Association (“PBA”) Committee on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility issued Formal Opinion 2020-300, which outlines the ethical obligations for lawyers working remotely.  Lawyers must be particularly mindful of the ethical obligations identified in the Opinion in light of the shift to remote work necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

On June 25, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Professional Ethics issued Opinion Number 735, deciding that Lawyer A can ethically purchase a Google AdwordSM or keyword that is competitor Lawyer B’s name (e.g., Pat Smith Law Firm purchases a keyword for Alex Doe Law Firm, so that when users search “Alex Doe Law Firm,” Pat Smith Law Firm will also appear in the search results, generally as an “ad.”  Lawyer A, however, crosses the line when (s)he pays a search engine to insert a hyperlink on Lawyer B’s name that diverts the user to Lawyer A’s firm when the user clicks on it. 
Continue Reading Lawyers may purchase a Google AdwordSM or keyword that is a competitor lawyer’s name, but there are ethical limits to what lawyers can do with search engine services