Archive for October, 2010

Taking the Fun out of Twitter

October 31, 2010

According to this article, Twitter is demanding rigorous adherence to how Twitter and Tweeting are discussed.  For example, the previous sentencing will pass the Twitter lawyer test because I mention Tweeting with Twitter.  But if I were to say, “The other day I was tweeting about my pastrami sandwich and….” That would bring down on wrath of the social media leviathan known as “Twitter.”

And my Facebook social networking group called, “Lawyers who Tweet” is shaking in its nascent boots, waiting fearfully for Twitter to send it a cease and desist order.  The sky is indeed about to fall.

Debt Collection & Social Media Snooping

October 30, 2010

posted over the summer about how debt collectors are increasingly using Facebook and other social networking sites to find debtors. This article goes into greater detail about how collectors are using Facebook, the limitations of this approach and why debtors and potential debtors should proceed with caution in what they post on Facebook etc.

Bottom line

Consumers need to think hard about whether they want to be “found” on the Internet.  If they have any qualms, they should use aliases, post a random photos as an avatar and not provide specific physical address information.  Finally they need to recognize that restricting access through privacy settings, might not be enough to protect their online information from being discovered.

Friday Freebie – Free Calendar Add-on

October 29, 2010

“A calendar approved by the dark side! With Dark Calendar, you’ll be able to summon a general meeting of the underworld in no time – just use the integrated SMS or email notifications to let everyone know about a scheduled event.”


Litigators Advocating Social Media Caution

October 28, 2010

Earlier this month I recommended that litigators warn potential clients about using Facebook and other social networking profiles cautiously and a law firm heard me. (joke!) Delmas & Rosenthal just published a list of things that consumers shouldn’t do on their online social networking (OSN) profiles if they are contemplating hiring a lawyer. The list is useful but fails to get at one of the key uses of social networking in court – evidence that goes to a claimant’s state of mind.  That’s hard to warn consumers about but it could be done.


Say you make a mental health claim based on an injury and you provide as a status update – “Thanks to all my friends for cheering me up during this stressful time.  You guys improved my mood 100%!”

This could be evidence that your emotional stress while real, is something you can improve on your own without the help of money damages.   There is a case for potential claimants to stop posting on their OSN before and during the litigation process.

Judge: Friend me to Rule on Facebook Evidence

October 26, 2010

This article reviews the legal difficulties in making social networking information available as part of the discovery process.  The Stored Communications Act is the friend of litigant who doesn’t want to share his or her Facebook profile with the other side.  While the Courts can request parties to turn over evidence for discovery, if the information is protected behind a firewall that only an internet service provider controls, then the Stored Communications Act prevents this information from being disclosed.

The Friending Judge

In a slip and fall case,  Barnes v. CUS Nashville, the Judge offered to create a Facebook profile and “friend” the plaintiff whose photos and other materials that were in dispute and to review the material and disseminate any relevant information to the parties.  Neither party took the Judge up on his offer.

Is this the electronic version of a party submitting disputed hardcopy evidence to a Judge for him or her to rule on its relevancy?


Lawyers & the Twitter Backlash

October 25, 2010

I just ran across a couple of lawyers complaining about Twitter or more accurately about how Twitter is being used or misused.  Here are the major complaints as I see them:

  • Fake lawyers use it to get clients to pay them for their social networking advice
  • Twitter is a giant echo chamber for the same articles to get re-tweeted to death
  • Attorneys can’t establish successful practice through Twitter
  • That Twitter “friendships” are worthless
  • That what gets tweeted is worthless

Why so Extreme?

I totally agree that Twitter won’t save mankind, attract clients through typing 140 characters or encouraged legal thought capable of creating new legal doctrines.  But who said it would?  These lawyers disgust at Twitter reeks of apostasy – former believers who are angry at being duped into believing they were saved.

Here Is What Twitter Can Do for Lawyers

  • Twitter is a free outlet to share blog posts.
  • Twitter is a way to develop a community of like minded people – and no don’t expect any of them to be the best man at your wedding.
  • Twitter is a way to quickly learn about fast breaking news in a particular niche
  • Twitter can allow someone interested in hiring you to check out what you say and whether it is useful to them.
  • Did I say that its free?

School Districts – Protect Yourself with Code of Ethics

October 24, 2010

Hernando County School District is trying to set out a social networking policy for its teacher and other employees.  Unlike the Franklin School which I had blogged about last month having prohibited teachers and staff from any kind of school related social networking posting, Hernando is aware of the potential First Amendment issues involved in such sweeping restrictions and is looking to other districts for guidance.  But as I’ve blogged about before, school districts are all over the map on this issue.

Is It Really that Difficult?

School districts must have teachers sign a code of conduct when they start working for them – why not just include social media in the description of activities like emailing, texting, phoning or meeting students outside of school hours and campus?  Seem like school districts are over-reacting and creating more difficulties for themselves than is necessary

Juror Facing Facebook Profile Probe

October 23, 2010

This article discusses an investigation into a jury forewoman’s Facebook posts because the defendant’s attorney believe she knew about the case before she served on the jury.

Facebook as Stalling Tactic?

Is Facebook going to be used by attorneys as a way to throw additional roadblocks into legal process?  If I were representing a plaintiff or defendant, I would review social media profiles by all parties to a case – judges, other attorneys, witnesses, plaintiffs, defendants, family members etc.  There maybe fodder for all kinds of motions lurking out there on the Internet!

Attorneys: Reach Out to Small Biz

October 21, 2010

Here is an interesting post from Legal Marketing Blog about how 51% of small businesses avoid hiring lawyers because they fear the cost yet 25% believe legal issues are the biggest risk to their business.  Obviously there is a disconnect.

How to Market to Small Businesses

1.  Let them know you welcome small businesses as clients

2.  Join Chamber of Commerce, a BNI chapter and other small business hubs

3.  Offer set fees for common legal tasks

4.  Write a blog focused on legal issues in a particular small business sector

5.  Make sure you include all this in your website messaging!

Buddy Press: The Future of Websites?

October 20, 2010

WordPress began as a blogging tool, then it became a platform for building straightforward websites.  Now, with BuddyPress, WordPress has an offering that is a mini-Facebook – allowing for collaboration, decentralized control and the power of the many over that of the “one.”

Here is a good summary of the pluses and minuses of this new tool. While BuddyPress isn’t the website future – yet, I do think that increasingly all website will have social networking components and the distinction between “social networking” and “websites will disappear.

Good for lawyers?

I’m not sure lawyers or law firms need to rush out and install BuddyPress. It probably too advanced for lawyer websites for now. One use, is to build a lobbying campaign – an activity around filing an amicus brief or for publicizing a particular piece of legislation.