Saturday, March 21, 2009

A YouTube video by Murray Trachtenberg?

The Public Eye has left a new comment on your post, "Has internet video lawyering come to Canada - anyone know?"


Your readers may find the following explanation useful.

In Manitoba, there is nothing legally or ethically that would prevent a lawyer from advertising his or her services on Youtube or on internet video-sharing and social-networking sites generally. Chapter 14 of Manitoba's Code of Professional Conduct ("Advertising, Solicitation, and Making Legal Services Available") simply sets out the following restrictions in terms of how lawyers may advertise:

7. Individual members, firms or law corporations may advertise, provided the advertising:

(a) is demonstrably true and accurate

(b) is not misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive

(c) is of a dignified nature and otherwise such as not to bring the member or the profession into disrepute

(d) does not claim or imply any superiority of the advertising member, firm or law corporation over any other member of the society

(e) of a law corporation is done under the name of the corporation

8. The lawyer or firm may advertise a preferred area or areas of practice provided the advertisement does not contain a claim, either directly or indirectly, that the advertising lawyer is a specialist or expert.

In principle, there is no reason why these strictures would prevent a lawyer from engaging in such direct internet advertising as represented by Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. I suppose there may be a traditionalist argument to the effect that section 7(c) of the Code is engaged on the grounds that such advertising is inherently 'undignified'. However, this argument tells us more about the legal traditionalist making the argument than about internet video-sharing or social networking as an advertising medium.

The same argument could have been (and likely was) made about lawyers seeking to advertise on the radio in the 1920s and 1930s, and on television in the 1950s and 1960s. In the case of a lawyer seeking to advertise his or her services, the medium emphatically is NOT the message.

Each piece of advertising properly must be assessed on a case-by-case basis to see if it complies with section 7(c). This approach is to be preferred over one which emphasizes arbitrary, personal approval or disapproval of a particular communications technology. A lawyer's Youtube video may be ridiculous and gaudy, and it just as likely may not. Posts and ads by lawyers on Twitter and Facebook may be inappropriate (in any event, they will certainly test the boundaries of what we consider permitted advertising under section 7(c), but I see no basis for making this determination before the fact. It all depends on the lawyer and the content and format of the piece of advertising under consideration.
The Public Eye
Dear Public Eye:

Truth To Power

Thank you so much for explaining the current rules surrounding lawyer produced videos. Here's what we envision. A 3-4 minute YouTube featuring Counselor Trachtenberg explaining defamation law to Manitobans. Next up would be Manitoba Metis Federation President and Plaintiff David Chartrand advocating for the expenditure of Canadian taxpayer dollars to sue private citizens. Finally, a cameo appearance by each of the remaining Plaintiffs supporting the President's position.

We'd suggest soft, soothing music playing in the background while the video runs. If Mr. Trachtenberg would like to produce it we'll gladly post it so our readers can send us their comments for him.


"Hello, my name is Murray Trachtenberg from Posner & Trachtenberg and these are my remaining Manitoba Metis Federation clients in the Canadian taxpayer funded defamation lawsuit against the now defunct I'm here to talk with you today about ..... ."

Exhibit "A"

Wetaskiwin, Alberta Crown Prosecutor Lionel Chartrand

CyberSmokeSignals' General Legal Counsel Lionel Chartrand wrote the allegedly defamatory words in late January 2004. Murray Trachtenberg has been aware of the evidence (e-mail) for years yet has not named him as a Co-Defendant. Counselor Trachtenberg's actions on behalf of the Plaintiffs has been reprehensible and irresponsible.

Clare L. Pieuk


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