An article in the New York Times made the rounds about lawyers that have made online social media part of their legal strategy. However, many have failed to recognize the risks they face when they forget limits set by the codes of conduct in their respective states.
Amazingly, the article points out that even some judges get busted with their online communications:
Judges, too, can get into trouble online. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in California, was investigated for off-color humor that was accessible on his family’s Web server, though not intended to be public. He was cleared of wrongdoing, but a three-judge panel admonished him for not safeguarding the site, which they said was “judicially imprudent.”
(Personally, when attorneys ask me about guidelines of their on-line communications, I find there’s no one answer because it depends on what you are commenting on and how close you are to the case. However, attorneys know about how electronic discovery works, and one email can make or break a case. Attorneys have little room for excuses when they get busted with bad blogging.)
Recently, I started working with a legal blogger that is part of Chicago Tribune’s online media community Chicago Now: Chicago Bar-Tender. I’d recommended that Chicago area lawyers check it out. Also, lawyers anywhere in the country should look at the blog the New York Times article references, Legal Professional Blog. These type of outlets not only give you news you may not get in your legal trade publications, they also show and tell you how on-line communication is different than many favorite American Bar Association publications.
For those of you who’ve read my blog before, I’ve already given away the PR laugh for this post. I find it quite amusing that professionally trained lawyers who work so hard on their communication with clients and in court, would be so sloppy with their very public communication with blog postings and tweets.