Keep ‘Em Separated – Combined Social Media Accounts Leads to Property Dispute

Many professionals promote through social media.  Within small practices, where an individual is often responsible for contributing content to the site, the lines between business profiles and personal accounts easily overlap.  On the surface, a professional’s decision to add personal content to her company account does not necessarily raise any ethical or business concerns.  However, where ownership of the business changes, disputes may arise as to whether the social media account is property of the company, or should remain in the possession of the individual …

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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 …

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NY Ethics Opinion Provides Guidance for LinkedIn Users

LinkedIn is perhaps the go to social media site for professionals seeking to promote their achievements and build their brand.  LinkedIn has carved a niche within the social media landscape by integrating networking capabilities with the specific needs of professionals hoping to build relationships.  Of course, the site also allows users to “endorse” a connection for certain practice areas or to write recommendations as to the user’s skill-set. It is this component of the site that has generated professional ethics issues and opinions. Moreover, the …

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“Friending” Leads to Ethics Complaint

An important aspect of litigation requires counsel to become investigator, to track leads, to turn every stone. Counsel seeks to better understand her adversary. Generally, this discovery process takes the form of formal document production, a long-standing and generally understood method of obtaining information.  In this digital age, many attorneys also take to social media to gain additional information.  However, unlike traditional paper discovery, using social media during litigation is fraught with peril.

Recently, the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics filed a complaint against …

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Case Analysis: Defamation and Blogs

In the age of lawyering we now live in, law firms frequently use blog posts, Twitter and newsletters as a marketing tool and to provide content of interest to clients or prospective clients.  These blogs and postings have become a tool not only for “reporting” in the broad sense, but also of showcasing an attorney’s depth of knowledge about a particular subject, and the fact that they have their fingers on the “pulse” of legal developments in their field as they happen.  While blogging, tweeting, …

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The Ethical Concerns of Blogging Professional Successes

Professionals have embraced social media as a means to promote their businesses and market their professional successes.  Managing social media accounts and writing blog posts allow professionals to directly communicate with prospective clients and advance their brand.  However, professionals must be cautious that marketing tactics in the new age of digital media do not run afoul of traditional ethics rules and statutes regulating advertising and communications with clients.

The State Bar of California Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct recently issued a formal opinion

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Restricting Employee Online Activity? Be Careful

Professionals take great pains to develop a positive reputation. Consequently, like all employers, many professionals monitor employee online activity to ensure that it adheres to internal policies and ethical standards.  At times, employers may be justified, or even expected, to take action to limit online activity, such as when an employee makes defamatory statements that could be attributed to the employer.  On the other hand, however, employers must take care not to infringe upon an employee’s statutory rights to voice legitimate criticism of their …

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Safe Social Media Management: Part III

Today we focus on the ethical implications of endorsements and social media reviews in our final installment of PL Matters’ three-part series exploring the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s recent opinion on the ethics of social media management. While recognizing others’ abilities, and being recognized yourself, is an important marketing tool, the practice of “rating” by peers and clients is not without potential pitfalls. Social media endorsements are varied. Some websites permit users to recommend or endorse another’s skills. Other sites allow clients to submit reviews of …

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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.  

Take, for instance, the recent

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Safe Social Media Management Part II

PL Matters is pleased to provide the second portion of a three-part series exploring the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s new opinion on the ethics of social media management. Here, we consider an attorney’s obligations when communicating through social media and whether and to what extent an attorney may use social media content during litigation. Simply put, it’s a dangerous but navigable road.

First Consideration: Represented or Unrepresented?

Rule 4.2’s prohibition against communication with a represented party without attorney consent also applies to social media contact. But, …

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