Over at Much Shelist, they put out what I consider to be one of the finer examples of a client communication, The Business & Legal Quarterly.

In the spirit of full disclosure, yes, I provide some editorial support for the publication — “some” and “support” being the operative words, however. The publication is very much a product of the firm’s commitment to providing value-added information and services to its clients and friends (e.g., readers, e.g., you), which means that my role is pretty much limited to helping the editor nudge things back onto a well-established path. (Somewhat like tapping a horse on the right or left side in order to keep it heading in a straight line.)

I’m thinking about this publication because a couple of recent articles — try here and here — have talked about some of the risks inherent in publishing online; namely, the possibility that certain statements posted on websites, through social media sites and via other internet-based media might be perceived as being defamatory and subject to litigation.

How does this apply to law firms? At first blush, people probably think of practice group descriptions when they think of online content related to law firms. And yes, it’s fairly rare for a firm to talk about anything but itself when describing a practice area. But websites are also full of press releases, links to bylined articles and publications posted elsewhere, news and events listings, etc. Any of these things could contain statements that could be perceived as — and fall under legal definitions of — defamation.

Ultimately, when it comes to making comments about other people and organizations — especially online, where nothing ever truly goes away — it’s not a bad idea to keep the Thumper Rule in mind. I now quote from the Disney movie, “Bambi”:

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice [long pause], don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

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