On October 6th, I wrote about the new ABA ethics opinion concerning website content, disclaimers and the potential effect of communication with website visitors. October's ABA Journal contains an excellent article about Formal Opinion 10-457.
Written by Peter Geraghty, the director of ETHICSearch, the ABA Journal article discusses the Formal Opinion in more detail, especially with respect to which ethics rules apply to content (you know the drill--fair comment that is not misleading).
As to disclaimer, Geraghty says: "To prevent misunderstandings, the committee cautioned lawyers to provide warnings on their websites that state that the information provided is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice, and that legal advice cannot be given without consideration of all the relevant facts related to the website visitor’s individual circumstances."
Of great interest is his discussion of the "prospective client," the person who calls you as a result of seeing your website. I agree with him that forms that collect information from prospective clients may pose problems when people send you TMI [too much information.] What are your obligations to the person with respect to confidentiality? When does that person have an expectation of becoming a client? What if they provide you with information? Can you be disqualified just because you talked to someone who found you because of your website?
You may read Geraghty, Peter. Recent Ethics Opinion: Lawyer's Websites, ABA Journal October 2010 here.