Archive for November, 2010

Social Media Policies: One Size not for All

November 18, 2010

Here is a thoughtful article from an a trade secret lawyer, a partner in a law firm about how to proceed in utilizing social networking without jeopardizing the company’s trade secrets.  Ms. Edelson rightly promotes the importance of employee training in social networking to insure they won’t be negligent in their use of social networking.  She also makes an important point that use of restrictive privacy settings doesn’t necessarily provide trade secret protection.

Industry, Culture, Industry, Culture

However, I don’t think its possible to discuss “trade secrets” without considering the culture and industry of a specific business.  An online retailer is dealing with a vastly different market than a company that sells paper supplies to government entities.  And I think Ms. Edelson’s perspective is much more suited to the latter than the former.  If a business isn’t able to communicate effectively and thereby sell effectively to a tech-savvy clientele, then the protection of its trade secrets takes a back seat to generating revenue and turning a profit.   I’m not a trade secret expert and Ms. Edelson’s suggestions seem appropriate and helpful but I do think when writing for “businesses” its important to understand you are talking to a wildly varied audience.

Debt Collector Hit with Facebook Harassment

November 16, 2010

MarkOne, an auto financing company has been hit with a lawsuit in Florida from a debtor who claims that her lender committed harassment by contacting her family members on Facebook and telling them that she was late with her car payments.

Her law firm, Morgan & Morgan believes she is a sympathetic plaintiff – placing her on the sidebar of the law firm’s homepage here.

Previously I have discussed how debt collectors have been using Facebook and social networking to apply pressure on debtors. Perhaps this case will lead to specific legislation banning these practices.

Social Media Strategy – Good Post

November 15, 2010

While this is a geared towards a business not necessarily lawyers, much of the thinking applies.  One of its most salient points is that its okay to both experiment and have a strategy.  Social networking is a new medium and its also very fluid so its impossible to get anywhere without experimenting.  However, you can still think strategy as you experiment.

Speaking at Santa Clara School of Law in Dec.

November 13, 2010

I will be speaking at Santa Clara School of Law on Dec. 3rd on the topic of “Finding and Developing Your Clientele” at 2:15pm.  It will be part of the law school’s “Opening Your Own Practice” program.

Actual Networking

While I will discuss the value of social networking, I will put more attention on actual networking.  If an attorney wants to open their own practice, there are several fields which are most promising – estate planning, bankruptcy, personal injury, family law and employment law.  Clients will most likely consist of small businesses and individuals and the best way to reach such people is to join a networking group.  There is the Rotary, Toastmasters and many others.  I belong to BNI (Business Networking International) which may not be that easy for new attorneys to join because attorney categories in BNI chapters are competitive.  However, if you are lucky enough to be invited to join, these groups are terrific training grounds for the basics of building your business.  Here are some of the things you will learn:

  • How to speak to regular folks not just attorneys
  • How to talk about your legal practice in a compelling and engaging manner
  • How to give and receive business referrals
  • Who are your power partners both within the chapter and beyond
  • How to stay engaged in building practice every week as you are required to attend a meeting a week

Why WordPress Rocks – Reason #92

November 12, 2010

Okay, maybe I don’t have 91 other reasons to love WordPress but almost!  This posting from one of my favorite online marketing blogs – Social Media Examiner points out a new WordPress feature that makes for a seamless and powerful Twitter integration – allowing websites to include their recent Twitter posts along the sidebar of any section of their website.  Maybe you don’t want to include a Twitter feed on your home page but would like to include it in your news section.  This WordPress widget allows you to do that.

WordPress Stays Ahead of the Game

Because its an open platform engaging lots of eager and talented developers, WordPress makes it possible to add this kind of engaging functionality that a proprietary website platform would make you pay dearly for them to code.

Big Corporations Showing Twitter the Love

November 11, 2010

This survey by shows that Fortune 500 corporations are embracing Twitter big time – 60% now have a corporate Twitter account versus 35% in 2009.  The biggest industry adopters are specialty retail, consumer goods and insurance.

My question to that 60% is: do you have social networking policies that effectively protect your interests in the free-wheeling 2.0 Internet world?

Worker Allowed to Criticize Boss on Facebook

November 10, 2010

According to the National Labor Relations Board, an employee is allowed to express their opinion about their employer on social media sites under the First Amendment without the threat of termination.


Though supposedly this applies to both union and non-union positions, it seems that this opinion will have more weight for union employees who are protected by a labor contract the union negotiates with the employer.  To be continued….

FTC Creates Privacy & Security Page

November 9, 2010

The FTC is recognizing the prevalence of businesses collecting online data about its clients,vendors and employees.  It is also recognizing that there are a range of laws that govern business protections and restricted use of this data.  As a result it has created a “Privacy and Security” page on its it new “Business Portal.”  In addition to tracking news, case law and providing workshops on various privacy and security issues, the FTC is making available an important online tutorial called, “Protecting Personal Information: A Guide for Business.”

And as if prompted, the Wall Street Journal is running a story (subscription required) today on how business websites are often at the mercy of advertising visitor tracking tools that maybe undermining their privacy policies without their awareness.

Sedgwick Insurance Attorneys Launch Blog

November 8, 2010

Legal blogs are becoming an important source for legal practice guidance because they can focused like a laser on under-served niches.  An example of this is the Professional Liability Law Blog published by Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold and authored by Mark Hancock, Steven Wasserman and Gregory Halliday, three partner at the firm with considerable knowledge of professional liability legal issues.  The aim of their blog is to help California attorneys, insurance professionals, accountants and stock brokers navigate through these often choppy legal waters.

Welcoming Social Media on Corporate Websites

November 7, 2010

Nearly 50% of corporations are making social networking integration into their website objective #1 in 2011.  One of the problems even the largest companies have had is pushing website visitors off their website into Facebook or Twitter rather than using those social networking tools within the framework of their website.

What about law firms?

I don’t think 2011 will be the year of such integration for lawyers or law firms.  They are just beginning to adopt social networking period, let alone promoting it on the homepage of their websites.  Check out Amlaw 100 websites and you will see only a few that have Facebook or LinkedIn icons on their home page and this is only the most minimal of integrations.

Not All Bad

As service providers, law firms don’t immediately benefit from easy brand loyalty like a Nike or McDonald’s so being thoughtful about approaching social networking is smart.  However, on the other side, law firms are all about delivering content to clients and prospective clients and social media is a terrific niche content delivery tool so they need to be strategizing about how to take advantage of it – the sooner the better.