Virginia: Social Media – a Lawyer’s Program

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On October 4, 2011, Mr. Waterman attended an ethics and professional program in Richmond, Virginia, presented by the Virginia State Bar and Attorney Liability Protection Society, Inc. (“ALPS”). The hot topic was “social media,” which surfaces with increasing frequency as key evidence in personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Rule 8:4(c) of Virginia’s Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” by a lawyer online; and companion Rule 8:4(a) prohibits a lawyer perpetrating the same through employees and contractors. But those limitations do not necessarily protect victims of personal injury and wrongful death against opposing parties, their insurers, and others “friending,” downloading and otherwise gaining material and information through social media such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and the like.