Archive for April, 2011

Jurors Asked about Facebook Friends

April 14, 2011

According to this article, in a West Virginia case a juror had befriended the defendant  only through myspace.com but that connection resulted in the case being overturned.  As a result jurors in another high profile West Virginia case are being asked whether they are “friends” with the defendant on Facebook or other social networking websites.

Is that Enough?

There is a slippery slope here as there are all kinds of ways people could be “connected” on the Internet.  They could be friends of a third party.  They could have both commented on a blog and even referenced each other with their comments.  For purposes of serving on a jury, what is the minimum connection to constitute an online relationship?

Example of Corporate Social Media Training

April 13, 2011

Here is a good example of a well-thought out planning training program for companies adopting social media.  Here is what I like about it:

  • Addresses the range of audiences involved – not just one type of employee and also looking at vendors and the like.
  • Identifies what the role various stakeholders have in the process
  • How to approach training for these audiences
  • That ongoing training will be required

 

NY Bar Leads Way With Law Industry Report

April 12, 2011

This report entitled, “Report of the Task Force on the Future of the Legal Profession” covers a wide range of topics in its 100 plus pages including, alternative billing, structure of law firms, legal technology, work life balance and more.

Acceptance of Social Media and Online Visibility

This is the section that most interested me and the report strikes a balance between the reality of lawyer websites, online visibility and social networking use with clients and prospective clients on one side and the need for thoughtful, ethical use on the other.  The task force suggest the Bar association continue to study social media and come up with recommendations for attorneys in this arena.

Social Media Polices for Employer – April 28th

April 11, 2011

Given the increasing concerns employers and businesses face with the risks of social media, I will be speaking at noon with Jessica Braverman, an employment attorney and mediator at the Alameda County Bar Association on April 28th.  We will cover the following issues:

  • Emerging social media case law and legislation impacting organizations
  • Sexual harassment, defamation and other employment law related issues involving social media
  • How to assess the right approach to developing or refining your social media policies (including a focus on law firms
  • Reviewing existing policies to include social networking exposures
  • Examples of existing social media policies that organizations have made public

Must Bar Regs on Client Reviews Change?

April 8, 2011

This is a useful podcast about the regulation of attorney review websites.  A portion of the interview is focused on U.S. News Report rankings of law firms which is less pertinent to solos and small firms but the section on how to look at client testimonials was quite helpful.

Here is my summary:

If a client honestly provides an attorney review on a site such as Avvo or Yelp, the question is whether the attorney is responsible under their governing state bar rules for that “testimonial?”  The panelists argued that if the site allows “clients” to independently submit review then the attorneys can’t be held responsible for the content.  Interestingly, they cite the “Communications Decency Act” which states that ISPs and “Internet Users” can’t be held responsible for third party content.  If a state bar disciplines an attorney for client postings on Yelp or Avvo, the attorney will have a ready-made defense.  However, for LinkedIn where the profile owner has the final approval of posting a recommendation, I don’t think the law applies as that ability to approve the content muddies the waters of whether it is truly third party content.

Initial Consultation – Fee or Free?

April 7, 2011

Here is a great post from the Solo Practice University about whether to offer a free initial consultation to clients. Clearly attorneys struggle with this for several reasons:

  • It can attract tirekickers
  • Take lots of time
  • You are giving it away for free

The author transitioned from a free approach to one where she charged a fee but if the client purchased a package, they received a credit for that first hour.  This seems smart in that it provides an incentive for folks to sign up for services but also insures another revenue stream.  This model may work better for some attorneys in certain practice areas and locations.

Use your Website as a Qualifier:

Whatever approach you take with initial consultations, use your website to make sure your clients have the appropriate expectations, documentation and done some preparation before they come to your office.  You can serve this up as a PDF that they can print out and bring with them as a checklist to the meeting.

Takeaway:

Don’t just give away your services without determining whether an “offer” is bringing you the business you want at the price that is profitable to your practice.  If free consultations provides you with volume and you convert a high number, great.  If you find that they don’t convert at a profitable rate and they require a great deal of time and energy (divorce situations for example?) then maybe you need to re-think your approach

Remember:Your Facebook Page Isn’t Private

April 5, 2011

In the old days, teachers would come home with stories about their day to tell their husbands, family and friends.  Generally, they could feel safe – if they trusted these people – that what they said wouldn’t spread to the students and parents.  However, technology has changed this old paradigm both in the ability to snap photos on a cell phone and post them to Facebook.  While to many people, this activity may feel private in the same way as telling stories to friends and family, it’s not.

Case in point is this story of a Chicago teacher who took photos of a girl’s hair breaded with Jolly Rancher candies, posted them to Facebook and made snarky comments on her profile.  This teacher may have felt because her page is viewable only by her friends and family, that this was a private act. Wrong.

A mutual friend of the teacher and the student’s parent downloaded the photos and comments to a CD and shared it with the now furious student’s parent who is looking to sue. Lesson?  No matter who you are, think of yourself as a journalist when posting to Facebook not as the neighborhood gossip sharing stories over the the fence. This may take the fun out of Facebook but that’s better being the target of lawsuit.

WordPress Landing Pages on the Fly

April 4, 2011

One of the great features of WordPress is that allows for plug-ins to create quick custom functionality that used to require a great deal of custom programming.

Case in point: a new plug-in called Premise which allows WordPress site-owners to quickly tweak a landing page which can act as a sales page, a pricing page with clear and compelling graphics that outline your offerings, a video page highlighting your offering, a tabbed landing page allowing for a variety of content to display in a more dynamic way.

So check out Premise and see what’s possible to create in minutes without a programmer present.

Can You Delete Your Online Presence?

April 1, 2011

Not really but this is a thorough explanation of what is involved if you want to give that a go.  Many lawyers believe that they can simply avoid the Internet and social networking altogether.  If they do that, they reason, they won’t have to worry about what is said about them online.

Wrong.  With many sites like Yelp and Avvo, lawyers are no longer able to hide.  The California State Bar makes its membership directory searchable through Google.  So unless you want to go through the expense and time of deleting much of your Internet information, you are stuck being visible.  Better to embrace the online world and make it work for you instead of passively letting it work against you.