Archive for December, 2010

Litigator Strategies for Social Media Use

December 18, 2010

Article in the Texas Lawyer on the use of social networking as evidence in personal injury litigation.  The author makes several interesting points:

  • Law is still unsettled and Canadian Law is ahead of U.S. law on this topic
  • The Electronic Privacy Act shouldn’t be seen as precluding release of discoverable information if a court deems the information relevant
  • Given that profile information can be deleted, the social media site should also be contacting as part of the discovery process
  • Finally, given the public nature of social media participation, information restricted by privacy settings should not be seen by the individual as absolutely secure from the other side

Texas Amendment:No Facebook for Jurors

December 17, 2010

An amendment to the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure proposes to spell out for jurors that they shouldn’t be discussing their case on “Facebook, MySpace or Twitter” along with other social networking websites.

While I applaud this effort and imagine that other states will follow suit, I do wonder if it will be enough to curb this bad behavior. It’s not like jurors can be confused.  How could it be not okay to discuss a case with your spouse but okay on Facebook?  I think these rules will have to get tougher to have any real impact.

Website Disclaimers – No Magic Shield

December 16, 2010

Lawyers think that if they have a disclaimer somewhere on their website they will be shielded against pesky lawsuits or Bar violations. Wrong. Increasingly, state bars and the A.B.A are putting lawyers on notice that an effective disclaimer needs two additional elements:

  • The language of the disclaimer need to be comprehensible to the reasonable person.  For example, simply stating no “attorney client privilege” is invoked when a person sends an email from the lawyer’s website is not enough to vitiate the confidentiality of the information a person sends because the average person has no way of knowing that the attorney client privilege concerns confidentiality.
  • The disclaimer needs to be located within the proximity of whatever action the person engaging with the website might undertake.  For example, if an attorney has an email form with no disclaimer nearby, then that isn’t good enough for the ABA.  This is particularly pertinent to lawyers and law firms that create separate “disclaimer” pages.  If the visitor is expected to have clicked on the disclaimer page in order to understand that the lawyer is disclaiming liability in same way, this isn’t sufficient.

Another Online Platform for You

December 15, 2010

Yes, Virginia there are more places for you to post yourself online.  This one (About.Me) is brand new and I decided to sign up for its beta. Here is my profile which took about three minutes to set up.  If you are trying to make yourself visible, it never hurts to create more profiles, particularly when they are free.

This one is well designed but in my case that highlights my stiff and unfriendly photo.  First action item of 2011?  New photo.

Why Social Media Policies Aren’t Enough

December 13, 2010

A recent survey shows that very few U.S. companies have re-evaluated their Electronic Stored Information Disclosure strategy in light of the social networking revolution.

Workflow not a Policy

Policies are stagnant and become musty as it takes a major effort for organizations to review and update them to take into account the behavior and culture of the entire entity.  This is why I advocate that companies that tackle social networking policies, do so within the framework of creating a workflow that is always operational and reviewable.  Yes, policies should emerge from these workflows but they shouldn’t be engraved tablets but organic and flexible guidelines that acknowledge the ever-changing environment of social media and related technologies.

NLRB Social Media Policy Implications

December 11, 2010

Here is a good article on how companies should approach their social networking policies in light of the free speech implications of impending NLRB ruling on what employees can say about their employer.

I’ve posted about this before but what I like about this article is how it suggests drafting specific examples giving employees guidelines of what’s appropriate and what’s not.  Not only are these policies likely to be more enforceable but they will also help employees have a clearer idea of what’s expected of them as well.

Handling Internet Media Justice in Australia

December 10, 2010

According to this article, the Australian  media is prevented from mentioning the identity of a man accused of murder ibut because of Facebook and the near impossibility of such order reaching individuals posting information on social networking sites, his identity became public anyway.  Its hard to think of how to approach this issue in light of the ease of using social networking by just about anyone.  Will the orders have to go against the providers?  How will they monitor or prevent publication of some information but not other information?

Featuring Content on Your Blog

December 9, 2010

WordPress has a plug-in for everything.  If you are an attorney who has written posts like “top ten tips in writing  a sales contract” and you want to make sure that your readers can easily find it, then you can install a plug-in such as, “featured post with thumbnails” and allow your visitors to always find it on the homepage.

Most popular posts

If you want to give your readers a chance to rate your best bests based on traffic, then there is a plug-in that allows you feature those posts on your side-bar as well.  I’m not sure I would install both though you can.  From a layout perspective, it might be confusing.

Additional Online Protection for Employees?

December 8, 2010

This article adds an interesting, additional protection employees may have under the National Labor Relations Act.  “Concerted Activity” which is where workers act for the mutual aid and protection of each other may make it difficult for someone speaking to colleagues on a social networking website to be terminated.

However, if that person is bad mouthing their employer to the public at large which may include colleagues, I’m not so sure their speaking out would qualify as concerted activity on the NLRB.

Still Advertising in the Yellow Pages? Ouch!

December 7, 2010

This article suggests that attorneys are beginning to wake up to the fact that Yellow page advertising is a losing proposition.  Give the costs – often thousands a month – there is a diminishing return on advertising in the phonebook.

  • Law firm states that yellow pages which a few years ago made up 50% of business is now down to 10%
  • Another firm spending 10k a month is seeing a decrease the quantity and quality of business generated from phone book ads
  • One firm is still getting bang for its buck but admits one factor is not wanting to give up its space in the phone book to a competitor