is it classified as an advertisement? A recent high-profile blogging case in Virginia discusses this very issue.
But rather than get into the merits of the above case, which you can read and decide for yourself, I will interject my opinion/bewilderment: are you kidding me? Of course attorney blogs are political speech aimed at current or prospective clients. But should I have to put a disclaimer at the bottom saying this blog is an advertisement? Now, that seems ridiculous. Please stop with all the disclaimers! (Disclaimer: this part of my blog is not political speech aimed at current or prospective clients, but is just me ranting and raving.) My sister recently texted me a picture of the bottom of a cereal bowl that reads as follows:
Appropriate for ages 8+. Warning! This product may break if dropped. Always use this product with adult supervision. Wash thoroughly before use. Dishwasher safe, top rack only. Not suitable for microwave use.
Again, I must ask, are you kidding me? At some point we have to ask ourselves if writing disclaimers to people who can’t read, write, or think independently is appropriate. Apparently, manufacturers have been convinced by the product liability lawyers that you can’t have too many disclaimers. But disclaiming a blog? Pretty soon I’ll have to wear a sandwich board when I go out in public. Allow me to illustrate.
Yesterday, I was at the dealership getting my car’s oil changed. One of sales reps was talking to me and asked me what I do. I told him I am an attorney. It turns out he had a question that I could answer and he asked me for a card. I told him I don’t normally carry cards with me, but I had one in my car that I could grab when my car was ready. Since he is a salesman, he chided me a little. I told him I prefer the "soft" sell. Then I gave him some more advice. Now I am wondering if he knows that my advice may have been an advertisement for my services. On second thought, maybe I really could use a sandwich board, just so no one is left wondering…