Lawyers face special risks when using online social media

From the NYTimes:

“Twenty-somethings have a much-reduced sense of personal privacy” leading to inappropriate use of social media. Lawyers face special risks when using online social media (doctors too).

86% of lawyers ages 25 to 35 are members of social networks like Facebook, as opposed to 66% of those over 46.

Examples of social media activity that created major problems for some young lawyers:

Sean Conway, a lawyer, was steamed at a Fort Lauderdale judge, so he did what millions of angry people do these days: he blogged about her, saying she was an “Evil, Unfair Witch.” Unlike millions of other online hotheads, he found himself hauled up before the Florida bar, which in April issued a reprimand and a fine for his intemperate blog post.

Judge Susan Criss of the Texas District Court in Galveston recalled in an interview a young lawyer who requested a trial delay because of a death in the family. The judge granted the delay, but checked the lawyer’s Facebook page.

“There was a funeral, but there wasn’t a lot of grief expressed online,” Judge Criss said. “All week long, as the week is going by, I can see that this lawyer is posting about partying. One night drinking wine, another night drinking mojitos, another day motorbiking.” At the end of the delay, the lawyer sought a second one; this time the judge declined, and disclosed her online research to a senior partner of the lawyer’s firm.

A Legal Battle: Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar. NYT.
Image source: An American judge talking to a lawyer. Wikipedia, Flickr, maveric2003, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

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