Radio Attorneys and Legal Columns: What Risks Are There?
There are many radio talk shows and legal advice columns available for Vietnamese speakers who live in Northern California. These programs typically feature questions from members of the public and general legal advice from professionals.
These spots can help lawyers in Vietnamese and other languages to improve their public profile, advertise their practice, or establish themselves as an expert in their field. However, there are also many risks.
Relationships between an attorney and a client
Before you begin pitching a column for your local newspaper or radio station, think about the risks that free advice could pose. The first is the risk of creating an attorney-client partnership.
Imagine a woman calling radio to call a show. She says that her husband is a foreign national and that she recently obtained her U.S. citizen. Then, she asks him if he could move to the United States. If you can answer generally about immigration law or marriage, then you might be okay. Don’t be too specific or your caller could claim you are her lawyer, after she’s violated immigration law.
“Practicing” in a jurisdiction other than yours
The jurisdictional risks are also there. Before you write or speak, you should be aware of the reach of your words. Even if the radio program or column in a newspaper is restricted to a specific area, it could reach other areas or be reprinted on the Internet. You could be accused if your advice is too specific.
Advertising and Confidentiality
Also, there are confidentiality and advertising issues. If your advice directly or indirectly relates to your availability for counsel, ensure it conforms with the rules that govern attorney advertising. Also, don’t discuss past representations or current ones.
You can reduce these risks by taking some simple precautions. Radio and newspaper advice have many of the same concerns as attorney blogging or social media. It is possible to be loud and proud while still protecting your back with a bit of caution.