CA State Bar Wants to See Your Old Website!

According to CA Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 1-400(f), and validated by Formal Opinion #2001-155, attorneys are required to make available every version of their website to the California State Bar upon request for up to 2 years.

Why This Is Ridiculous

The problem with this approach is that it views the Internet as containing “pages” which get edited as the same as advertisements, brochures and the like. In this view of the Internet, it is seen as a one way communications channel that can be analogized to print publications. However, in the era of Web 2.0 and beyond, this view of the Internet makes no sense. First off, is a Facebook Law Firm page, a “website?” What about a blog or a Twitter profile? If these are websites, what happens to information that gets posted by other people on these sites? Is the attorney responsible for those?

The Good News

It seems unlikely that the financial strapped Bar is going to pore over millions of web pages created, revised, taken down over the past two years and write to an attorney to ask to see a questionable statement. And if there is an egregious and harmful statement, it will probably rise to the level of actual litigation and be subject to discovery.

WordPress Makes Complying Easier

However, even if an attorney receives such a request, as long as the website is built on the WordPress platform, all versions of all content can be retrieved. This maybe true with other content management systems as well but I can only vouch for WordPress.


Don’t let arcane rules and ethics opinions stop you from marketing your practice keeping in mind common sense practices to be truthful and clear in all your communications.

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