NLRB Takes on Employer re: Facebook Firing

May 20, 2011

True to their word, the NLRB is taking on another employer over the termination of five employees because they went to Facebook to discuss work load and staffing issues.  The employer, Hispanics United, is a nonprofit serving low income individuals and families.  An administrative judge is set to hear the case on June 22, 2011.

If you are interested in learning more about the issues a company faces handling social media issues, there will be a program on May 25, 2011 at noon where Jessica Braverman and myself will be discussing these issues at the Alameda County Bar Association Headquarters in Oakland.

Link to NLRB press release

When Is Your Office Really Your Home?

May 19, 2011

An interesting post from My Law License, wondering about attorneys working out of their homes but  renting an office where they have their phone answered and mail received.  If they have a photo of their “office building” on their website, are they misleading clients and potential clients?  In California, there is the B&P code 6158 which states that electronic advertising as a whole can’t be misleading.  But really is there a significant different between placing your office address on the website and the building in terms of misleading potential clients?  I don’t think so but it’s an interesting question.

Lawyers & Facebook – Oil & Water?

May 16, 2011

Kevin O’Keefe posts about how attorneys shouldn’t dismiss Facebook as a networking tool.  I like how he fits Facebook into the an attorney’s social marketing toolkit as something different from LinkedIn.  He sees Facebook as a way to nuture more well-rounded relationships online.  For LinkedIn, its all business but for those people you think its worth getting to know on a more personal basis, Facebook can be a good way to go.

Be Thy Self Online

I don’t enjoy Facebook.  I have a profile and I stream blog posts into it but I barely look at my “Wall” and even more rarely make a personal contribution or respond to someone else’s update.  This may change.  I may find a way to incorporate Facebook into my life that feels right but until then I’m not going bring a false persona to the site just for business development purposes.

CA Privacy Bill Conflict with Fed Proposal?

May 15, 2011

A California Senate Bill - SB242 proposes to force social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and others to prompt users to create their privacy settings before they register with the website rather than the current approach which creates default settings for users that have them sharing photos, biographical information and only allowing them to alter these settings once they are already using the website.

Federal Privacy Bill of Rights

The California bill may exceed the privacy standards of the proposed Federal legislation and that legislation preempts any state standards so it will be interesting to see how these conflicts resolve themselves.

Why New Legal Social Networking Sites Fail

May 14, 2011

Welcome to Lawford which is a new social networking website that promises easy profile creation as it’s differentiator.  But as Robert Ambrogi suggests, lawyer social networking platforms maybe easy to use and still fail.  Why?  Because there has to be a powerful incentive to belong to yet another social network – legal or not.  So I quickly filled out my profile on Lawford and now what?  Supposedly, I will be able to connect with other lawyers and how is the different from LinkedIn?

CLE CLE CLE

Lawyers hate having to pay for and track their hours.  Why not create a social networking website that by joining it you get a significant discount and a way to track and submit CLE hours to your State Bar?   Lawyers need to get something big in order to be convinced to join yet another social networking website and CLE might just be the ticket to get them to such a site in droves.

Seattle to Yellow Pages – Drop Dead

May 10, 2011

Perhaps my headline is overly dramatic but I couldn’t resist the play on the famous New York Post Headline that read, “Ford to New York: Drop Dead” when the then President refused to bailout the Big Apple.

However, according to this article, Seattle appears to be the first city in the nation to pass a law allowing residents to drop out of Yellow Pages distribution.  This prompted the publisher’s lawsuit claiming the law violated its First Amendment rights.   The Judge has denied the publisher a preliminary injunction but has yet to rule on the underlying lawsuit.

Bye Bye Yellow Pages?

However, in less than a week, 14,000 Seattle residences have registered on the website to opt out of receiving the Yellow Pages. Should this trend take flight, how relevant will the Yellow pages remain to lawyers spending thousands to get a listing?  Hopefully, at the very least this will give attorneys some ammunition to negotiate on price.

Scaring Lawyers Over Social Networking

May 9, 2011

This post on lawyer’s use of social media does a good job of explaining how social media works in terms of content and distribution.  The author works in Canada which may explain why there is no discussion of the advertising or legal ethics.  However one of the comments proceeds to address the issue of attorney ethics and social media but does so in a way to “scare” attorneys.  Here is a taste of the comment:

The rules that govern lawyers are still too murky and not for the faint of heart.

Actually, the rules that govern lawyers in social media are the same as govern attorneys in traditional media.  Its not the rules that are murky its the application of social media to the rules.  One of the points the commenter makes is that “friend” another attorney can result in “censure.”  The commenter links to this article which discusses Florida’s rule that prohibits a judge from friending an attorney.  A few other states also have rules regarding a judge friending an attorney.  To take the situation where a judge can’t “friend” an attorney and state that the rule is about any attorney “friending” another attorney is a classic case of scare tactics – distorting and amplifying a fact until it becomes untrue.

While its true that its unclear how attorney ethics rules apply to social media in many circumstances, that doesn’t mean that the scariest scenario will apply.  Ethics rules are safeguards for clients and consumers not draconian restrictions on how attorneys can engage in the world.  The more attorneys adopt social media, the easier it will be to determine how ethics rule should apply.

Google Search Algorithm – Quality 1st

May 8, 2011

Since the beginning of the commercial Internet, businesses have been looking to push their way to the top of search rankings.  Over the years there have been many trends and most of them involve “gaming” the system.  Initially, Google’s approach was to reward quality sites – those that people returned to again and again as witnesses by linking to those sites.  However, businesses focused on secretive ways to game Google and Google doesn’t like that.

This post to their official webmaster site lists out what they want to promote in high ranking websites.  Quality is number one and rather than paying lots of money to create link farms or generate lots of dubious content, here are some things Google will be looking for in ranking your website:

  • Authority of Author
  • Are these topics of Interest or Driven by Keyword Popularity?
  • Quality of Copyediting
  • Originality of the Content
  • Is the Content Substantial or Superficial?

NLRB Keeps Social Media Front & Center

May 6, 2011

The NLRB continues to push employers to make it clear to employees that they will not face termination because they have posted comments on Facebook etc. about the terms and conditions of their employment.

In a case involving build.com and a former employee, the NRLB as part of the settlement required the employer to post a 60 day notice about employees not getting terminated for discussing workplace terms and conditions on social media websites.

Even more interesting, the NLRB has made social networking issues a priority for cases in the future.

ACC Favors Draft Rules Re: Sophisticated Clients

May 5, 2011

Recently, I posted about the big firms attempt to carve out a special niche regarding professional rules of conduct that apply to “sophisticated” clients. Now the Association of Corporate Counsel appears to be getting on the bandwagon.  Since they are the key party that will be impacted by this approach, its good news for the big firms.


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