Monday, December 21, 2009

Lawyer Blogging and Social Networking – Are the Rewards Worth the Risk?

A recent story made the rounds regarding the appropriateness of judges “friending” lawyers on facebook and other social networks. A judge in Florida ruled that the practice “could create the impression that lawyers are in a special position to influence their judge friends.” There have also been more extreme examples of lawyer missteps.

Another story that was highlighted in a Law Firm Risk Roundtable bulletin some while back highlighted the significant risks of unfettered lawyer blogging. In this case, an associate at an AmLaw 100 firm publicly boasted on their blog about their intent to ignore an ethical screen. Here’s an excerpt of that post which created clear danger for that firm were it ever expecting a disqualification motion:
  • “An associate just walked by my office… and she asked how it felt to have an ethical wall being built around me… I had no idea what the hell she was talking about. So she says she's referring to the firm-wide email… I responded that I guess I hadn't read it because I always immediately delete all my junk mail, and she pointed out that just because something is sent to the ‘all-attorney’ email list doesn't mean its junk mail… Whatever. DELETE!”
Lawyer blogging and social networking can provide significant exposure and business development benefit for your firm. But it’s also a risk issue that should be identified, evaluated and addressed. Does your firm have policies and guidelines on lawyer blogging and social networking? In several instances, legal insurance providers are including policy requirements in their audit guidelines and checklists. Here are some resources firms should review when developing their own policies.
These links have been added to the Law Firm Risk Resources wiki page. If you have additional links to share, please feel free to contribute to the library.

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