Archive for May, 2011

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?


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 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.

Applying State Bar Rules to Facebook

May 4, 2011

Dean Dietrich who is the chair of the State Bar Professional Ethics Committee offers this analysis of how the Wisconsin Rules of Professional Responsibility apply to an attorney’s Facebook page.

He makes a couple important points:

  • Social media profiles are subject to the same set of rules as any other form of advertising
  • That Facebook can’t be used to solicit prospective clients without requiring a notice “advertising material.”

A couple other issues that he doesn’t mention in this context are:

  • Facebook may qualify as real-time communication if you are “friends” with someone and engage them on Facebook chat.  This is particularly an issue as being a “friend” on Facebook doesn’t require a relationship so this real-time chat could be with essentially a complete stranger.
  • Facebook raises breach of confidentiality issues with clients and prospective clients because of its transparency.  Attorney will want to closely examine privacy setting and avoid any discussion of client matters on this or any other social media website.

Growing Demand for Litigation

May 3, 2011

According to this Hildebrandt report, demand for litigation is up 4% in the first quarter of this year.  Litigation is doing better than M&A, Bankruptcy, Real Estate and Corporate work at the moment.

This suggests that plaintiff firms have been very busy lately!

Online Security: Start with Passwords

May 2, 2011

Have you noticed how websites are requiring increasingly complex passwords?  It use to be six digits and it could be all lowercase. Now its typically eight characters and must be upper case and special characters.   Here is a post that talks about why this is the case.

Password manager

The article also suggests a couple password managers which I am going to check out.  The article recommends having a variety of passwords so that a hacker doesn’t just have to hack one password to get access to all your private information.