Friday, February 25, 2011

When "Solo And Associates" Is An Ethics Violation

Debra Cassens Weiss of the ABA Journal tells us in her post, Solo Suspended, Partly for Implying His Law Firm Was Bigger, that a "Virginia solo practitioner has been suspended partly for holding out his law firm as a bigger operation."

Cassen Weiss explains that, "Jason Matthew Head, a Virginia Beach [solo] lawyer, began calling his law firm Jason Head & Associates." The court mentioned that the website, letterhead, envelopes, directory listings and marketing collateral were all misleading. The opinion also indicates that Head used the words "Attorneys at Law" in the law firm name.

What I find even more interesting in the opinion is the fact that this attorney was reported to the Virginia Bar for what appears to be conduct that bordered on attorney negligence. After failing to respond to a client's calls regarding the recording of a real estate deed over the course of several months (among other things), the client was blatantly aggravated to the point of no return.

Cassen Weiss also explains that the court found that Head "identified nonexistent practice groups, falsely stated his firm had three locations, and implied that a nonlawyer was actually a lawyer associate."

When I searched Google for Mr. Head's name, I came up with thousands of references to "Jason Head & Associates." The image above only shows the first few. It still appears on many directory listings, Facebook, video sharing sites, blogs and other places where he has worked so hard to search engine optimize the firm name and practice areas.

All of this leads me to wonder if the Court would have come to the same conclusion had the extenuating circumstances not existed. As a law firm marketing and public relations practitioner, it also leaves me wondering what Mr. Head is going to do for damage control.

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