Category Archives: Social Media Lessons

Monitoring a Client’s Social Media Content

Proceed with caution! The intersection between social media and attorney ethics is fraught with peril. In fact, all professionals should be on high alert when interacting with clients or would-be clients on social media sites. You all know this and you’ve heard it before from your friends at PL Matters and others. Still, there is no shortage of social media blunders impacting the PL community. The Philadelphia Bar Association Professional Guidance Committee recently released an ethics opinion addressing four common questions facing lawyers whose clients use social media websites. These pointers are helpful to all.

Continue Reading....

Employer Liability for Employee’s Online Activity

Many employers have made great strides in adapting to the risks posed by online activity. Some maintain employee handbooks with social media and computer use policies. Others provide training and many monitor employee use of employer-provided devices. But risks still remain. Take, for example, the recent Indiana appellate decision regarding potential employer liability for an employee’s online conduct.

Continue Reading....

Don’t Steal Your Competitor’s Website Content

Search engine optimization provides a marketing edge. Would-be clients may be more apt to contact those professionals at the top of the online list. So, some professionals spend considerable resources to maintain a priority position in search results. There are marketing tricks to achieve priority status, and tools to employ. But, professionals must not go too far. Take for example the New Jersey attorneys who allegedly stole a competitor’s website content to generate more hits on their website.

Continue Reading....

When Ethics and Online Reviews Collide

Before making dinner reservations, hiring a dog-walker, going to the movies or finding a plumber many consumers utilize online review websites to help make an informed decision. Sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Consumer Reports and even Facebook provide the opportunity for an online community to publish a review for all to see. Professionals fall into the class of other service-providers who may be reviewed online. These reviews may serve as a nice source of referral business; they can also tarnish a professional’s reputation instantaneously. In the case of the latter, one attorney recently took an offensive approach by responding to an online review written by a former client. The result was undoubtedly not what the attorney intended.

Continue Reading....

Social Media Use Before and During Trial

Often, the fate of your client is in the hands of a group of strangers. These strangers, aka jurors, will determine whether your client is guilty or innocent, liable or not. Sure, jurors’ decisions are based on their evaluation of the evidence, credibility, and the law but verdicts are also reached due to juror bias, personal experience, or tendencies. Thus, the process of selecting a jury is critical and attorneys utilize various methods and strategies in picking only those strangers more likely to decide in their client's favor. Given that a large population of the juror pool utilizes social-media, it may be tempting for attorneys to tap into this wealth of information during voir dire and throughout the trial. Before checking out a would-be juror’s Facebook profile, however, consider the following.

Continue Reading....

Settlement Voided due to Facebook Post

Facebook strikes again! Just ask a settling plaintiff who learned that his negotiated settlement payment was deemed void as a result of his daughter’s Facebook post. According to a recent decision out of Miami, an $80,000 payment was presumptively waived as a result of a post from the plaintiff's daughter broadcasting the “victory” due to a confidentiality clause within the settlement agreement. This is just another example of the serious consequences of inadvertent disclosure of confidential information and the risks of social media.

Continue Reading....

Search Terms for Sale: Cautionary Tale

Maintaining a website is just the tip of the iceberg for professionals engaged in online marketing. There are many more options available to professionals fishing for business, depending on their technological comfort level. Today’s professionals also compete for prime domain names and utilize tools to manipulate “searchability.” Commanding that top spot on search engine results can be crucial to a marketing campaign by taking advantage of the reportedly 3-4 billion number of google searches per day. As a result of these staggering statistics, some firms purchase search terms to quickly direct users to their site. This practice is not free of risk.

Continue Reading....

The Ethical Limitations of Blogging

Some of the critical ingredients to professional “success” include some combination of skill and marketability. Either, on their own, are insufficient for professional’s to meet their goals. Today, marketing takes many forms - whether through social media, television, or traditional print. Developing an effective message and reaching the right audience are just as important as developing the skills of your trade. Many professionals have turned to blogs and other forms of social media as a form of marketing. However, these avenues of communication are not free of risk, especially with respect to the ethical limitations of attorney advertising. One attorney in Virginia learned this lesson the hard way.

Continue Reading....

Attorney’s Tweet Leads to Sanctions

Tweet with caution. It only takes 140 characters for professionals to embarrass themselves or worse. Social media has many advantages. No doubt. But, many users could benefit from an “unsend” option after their post has already infiltrated cyberspace. Of course this option doesn’t exist. We’ve all heard stories of the impulsive, ill-advised posts (like these), an embarrassing typo (like this) , or the heat of the moment tweet (like this) sent hastily without a second thought. In certain circumstances these posts go unnoticed but some professionals may not be so lucky. Take for example the attorney in Kansas who was sanctioned for blasting her opinions about pending cases on Twitter.

Continue Reading....

Status Update: Facebook “Likes” Receive Constitutional Protection

Social media issues arising out of the workplace are ever-changing. Your friends at Professional Liability Matters recently discussed the potential consequences to employees for posting objectionable personal information on Facebook. However, a novel decision from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday may turn the tables on employers who take retaliatory action against employees based upon their Facebook activity. Spoiler alert… Facebook "likes" are protected free speech under the First Amendment.

Continue Reading....