Category Archives: Technology

Failure to Cite Blog Content Leads to Copyright Claim

Professionals utilize blogs for a variety of reasons: for marketing and promotion, to highlight trends and relevant issues, or to be of service to the community. In many cases, professional blogs do not generate original content, but rather provide summaries and links to primary sources, which readers can further investigate. However, professionals, like all bloggers, must be careful to identify their sources and avoid simply copying content from other sites. Failure to give credit where credit is due, even in blog posts, can violate ethics rules and lead to costly plagiarism claims.

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Failure to Keep Up with Technology Could Lead to Ethics Violation

Technology is rapidly changing the manner in which businesses operate. This is equally true for professionals, who must incorporate and adapt to technological advances in order to thrive in a competitive marketplace. However, keeping up to date with technology is not merely a matter of protecting the bottom line. Professionals who fail to stay on the cutting edge could violate ethics rules and jeopardize their client’s interests.

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Social Media Guidelines Get a Profile Update

Social Media has transformed the legal profession. Today’s lawyers routinely communicate, advertise, investigate and obtain information via the numerous social media platforms available at the click of a button. The rapid change in the way lawyers do business has created a new set of ethical challenges. In order to navigate this growing field of ethical issues, many states have issued guidelines for the use of social media in the legal profession. Last year, the New York State Bar Association’s Commercial and Federal Litigation Section issued its first set of Social Medial Ethics Guidelines. Just recently, those Guidelines were updated to address areas that require additional guidance including new sections on the retention of social media by lawyers, tracking of client social media, communications by lawyers with judges, and lawyers’ use of LinkedIn.

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Public and Private E-mails Don’t Mix

Hillary Clinton recently made headlines for using her personal email account for business purposes during her tenure as Secretary of State. This high profile example provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon what is commonplace for some. It can be tempting for employees to use personal email accounts to conduct corporate business, particularly when working remotely. However, the highly sensitive nature of Clinton’s job raised questions over the security of using a non-work email account to transmit information. Depending on the nature of your job or the emails that you send, there are risks when mixing personal and business e-mails.

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Technology in the Courtroom – The Dos and Don’ts

Stuck in court but want to use your tablet to respond to a client e-mail? Waiting for your case to be called and want to send a tweet from your phone? Is this sort of conduct permissible in the courtroom? Nowadays, it is anyone’s guess. Smartphones and tablets have become indispensable in the legal world, but the law regarding electronic communications sent from the courtroom is still in flux. The New Jersey Supreme Court’s proposed Guidelines on Electronic Devices in the Courtroom, which have yet to take effect, aim to provide some guidance in this realm. Now, if you want to scroll and tap on your mobile device in the courtroom, keep these new rules in mind.

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No More “Signing” on the Dotted Line

E-mails rule the business world. Due in part to the sheer volume of e-mails we receive, many professionals use standardized email signatures, which are automatically inserted at the bottom of an email. The shift to more transactions occurring by email raises the question: what constitutes a legally binding signature? A recent decision by the California Court of Appeals addressed the issue of when an e-mail may constitute a binding signature. The decision underscores the importance of understanding the validity of electronic signatures and the statutory requirements for your jurisdiction.

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Protect Your E-Filing Passwords

It wasn’t long ago when filing deadlines forced attorneys to rely on the speed and reliability of their process-server or messenger. How many filings were missed due to a flat tire or traffic? If the filing wasn’t stamped before the court closed at 4 PM, the filing could be considered late and the attorney left answering to the client. The dawn of electronic filing has changed this process. Many courts accept filing up to midnight of the due date and hand-delivery is no longer a requirement. But how many of you have considered some of the risks of e-filing? How about the importance of monitoring your filings and safeguarding your e-filing password? Consider the lesson taught to an attorney subject to discipline in New York for allowing non-attorneys to use his e-filing information without proper oversight.

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Does the “Private” E-mail Exist?

Innovations in technology have blurred the lines between work and private life. Many professionals regularly utilize personal devices, such as smart phones and tablets, while in the office, and can likewise access company files electronically through work-issued computers while at home. Given the lack of a bright-line distinction between that which is work and that which is private, employees may be tempted to engage in conduct on personal accounts or devices that would otherwise be clearly prohibited in the office.

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New Ethics Opinion on Safe Social Media Management

Professional Liability Matters is pleased to present a multi-part blog series exploring a new opinion on the ethics of social media management. As sites like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook continue to skyrocket in popularity, the use (and abuse) of social media in the business world remains a hot topic in the professional liability realm. Without fail, most networking events, seminars, and CLE presentations include a social media component and for good reason. Social media can be a great tool for all professionals, but can also be a source of risk and unexpected pitfalls. The law continues to adjust to emerging and dynamic technology; as a result, attorneys are sometimes left wondering how to best harness this technology to serve clients, and generate business while still staying in compliance with ethical rules. The Pennsylvania Bar Association recently issued an opinion that may help.

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Cyber Lessons from Jennifer Lawrence

As you've no doubt heard, hackers recently accessed dozens of female celebrities’ personal cloud-based storage accounts, releasing hundreds of nude photographs and videos onto the web. Many of the photographs were taken by cell phones, which automatically backed up the files to popular cloud services, such as iCloud and Dropbox. Some suspect that the hackers then employed targeted attacks in which “brute force” programs were used to randomly guess weak passwords for a given username until it found a match. Once inside the celebrities’ cloud accounts, the hackers could access all manner of personal information. This is how many criminals operate today and all professionals should pay attention.

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