The Law for Lawyers Today

The Law for Lawyers Today

Ethics, Professional Responsibility and More

Category Archives: Social Media and Internet

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LinkedIn profile helps draw bar discipline in two states for lawyer who wasn’t licensed

Posted in Licensing, Social Media and Internet, Unauthorized practice
I love LinkedIn, but here’s a potential hazard — what you say there can and will be used against you if you’re engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. A Colorado lawyer found that out the hard way:  he was suspended in Pennsylvania for a year, and got the same discipline in Colorado, where he… Continue Reading

Tech innovation must shape legal practice, ABA Futures Comm’n chair says

Posted in Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
What is the future of legal services in the U.S.?  How should the enormous unmet need for services — to the middle class and to the poor — be met?  Judy Perry Martinez, the Chair of the ABA Commission on the Future of Legal Services, was in Cleveland last week, and discussed the Commission’s 100+ page report… Continue Reading

Former Uber program to “greyball” riders draws attention to ethics rules

Posted in In-house Counsel, Social Media and Internet
This is a good one for the law school legal ethics class I’m teaching this semester:  If a company’s lawyer approves a policy that may be legal in itself, but the lawyer knows that the company will use it to evade the law, has the lawyer violated ethics rules? An analogous question arose last week when the New York Times reported that… Continue Reading

Data breach report says BigLaw is most likely to be hit, and cybersecurity complaint is unsealed

Posted in Social Media and Internet
Law firm cybersecurity is in the news again with two developments. First, the latest ABA TechReport says that large law firms were more likely to be victims of a data security breach last year than mid-size or small firms, with one in seven respondents having been hit overall. That's a big deal. Next, a federal class action complaint in what is thought to be the first suit attempting to base liability solely on a U.S. law firm's allegedly inadequate cybersecurity was unsealed on December 9. But that suit possibly turns out not to be such a big deal.… Continue Reading

Expressing your opinion via social media can create conflict, D.C. ethics opinion warns

Posted in Conflicts, Social Media and Internet
If you "like" a political Facebook post, or tweet a comment on a controversial legal topic, are you potentially creating an ethical conflict of interest with your clients who may have contrary interests? The District of Columbia bar ethics committee thinks so, and warns about the risk in its Opinion 370, issued late last month.… Continue Reading

LinkedIn “endorsement” upgrade shows need to monitor what others say about you online

Posted in Advertising and Solicitation, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
LinkedIn last week announced a "rethinking" of its endorsement feature, first launched in 2012. Starting with its mobile app, the service says it has "improved targeting" so people looking at your profile will see the endorsements for you that are most relevant to them. Coming on the heels of this development, a new Ohio ethics opinion reminds us that we should be monitoring endorsements and other kinds of testimonials to ensure they are within ethical bounds.… Continue Reading

First Amendment protects Avvo advertising shakedown, district court holds

Posted in Advertising and Solicitation, Social Media and Internet
Avvo has a First Amendment right to use a lawyer's publically-available information to generate advertising revenue for itself, the district court for the Northern District of Illinois held on September 12. The ruling means that Avvo can park ads for your competitors on the profile it creates for you -- unless you pay Avvo to keep them off.… Continue Reading

Pokémon Go — another reminder about the duty of competence for lawyers

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
Since it debuted in the U.S. a couple weeks ago, Pokémon Go has become a nationwide phenomenon. If you're like I was, you may need a primer in order to understand what the hoopla is about. The game was launched by Nintendo and The Pokémon Company for smartphones. It features the longtime videogame franchise that involves capturing and "training" phantasmagorical creatures called Pokémon. And yes, there's an ethics issue for you to think about.… Continue Reading

Microsoft acquisition of LinkedIn could spell ethics issues for lawyers

Posted in Confidentiality, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
Microsoft's plans to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion was the talk of the tech world late last month. The combination of these behemoths is going to give Microsoft access to all LinkedIn's data. Microsoft's CEO has given some examples of the potential synergies that will result, like "getting a feed of potential experts from LinkedIn whenever Office notices you're working on a relevant task." But legal ethics issues loom, involving our duty of confidentiality under Rule 1.6.… Continue Reading

Beware: malicious e-mail campaign is targeting lawyers with fake disciplinary, bar notifications

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
A cyber-alert issued earlier this month by the non-profit Center for Internet Security warns of a dangerous wave of malicious e-mails that are specifically targeting lawyers. The fake e-mails are calculated to get your adrenaline pumping and to get you to open them and click on a link -- because they're personalized, they look urgent, and they're disguised as coming from your own state's disciplinary body or bar association.… Continue Reading

“Don’t they have e-filing where you come from?” Tech-challenged lawyer dodges suspension

Posted in Competence, Social Media and Internet
My spouse and I visited Chicago years ago, and confusedly started driving the wrong way down a one-way street. We were promptly pulled over by one of the Windy City's finest. I gave him my best smile, and said, "Sorry, officer, we're from out of town." He grunted, "Don't they have one-way streets where you come from?" But he didn't give us a ticket. A recent disciplinary opinion out of Oklahoma, involving a tech-challenged bankruptcy lawyer, brings the story to mind.… Continue Reading

Client defames lawyer on review site — court upholds $350,000 in punitive damages

Posted in Social Media and Internet
A Florida appeals court has affirmed $350,000 in punitive damages awarded to a lawyer who claimed that a former client defamed her in on-line reviews. Some courts have turned back claims based on internet reviews. But in Blake v. Ann-Marie Giustibelli, P.A., the court said there was no free-speech shield for the former client's false statements on various internet review sites. … Continue Reading

Avvo misappropriated identity for commercial use, says lawyer in class action

Posted in Advertising and Solicitation, Social Media and Internet
Lawyer-rating site Avvo is violating a state statute barring unauthorized use of “an individual’s identity for commercial purposes,” an Illinois lawyer has charged in a putative class-action complaint filed last week in the chancery division of Cook County Circuit Court. Fee- based marketing plan The gist of the complaint is that without any authorization or participation from… Continue Reading

Five legal ethics developments to watch in 2016

Posted in Competence, Conflicts, Law Practice Management, Multi-jurisdictional practice, Privilege, Social Media and Internet
What was the most important development in the legal ethics arena over the past five years?  I was honored to be asked by LexBlog, the folks who provide our blog platform, to share my views on this topic on the LXBN network, which has 8,000+ blog authors.  But of course, the invitation also made me think about… Continue Reading

On-line blab can kill lawyer licenses and lead to other bad stuff — latest cautionary tales

Posted in How Not to Practice, Social Media and Internet
Here are three very recent reminders about what not to do online.  These separate stories involve an Indiana lawyer and two judges:  one state and one federal.  Apparently human nature makes on-line misconduct irresistible to some people, even at the cost of their licenses to practice, and the risk of other professional embarrassment. Don’t Steele — or lie… Continue Reading

Buying pre-fab legal blog content — any ethics issues with that?

Posted in Advertising and Solicitation, How Not to Practice, Social Media and Internet
It’s pretty circular for a legal blogger to write a blog post about — blogging.  But bear with me:  there’s a legal ethics issue in here.  Thomson Reuters recently introduced a new product for busy lawyers who “do not have time to write articles,” but want to produce a blog.  (Hat tip to @kevinokeefe over… Continue Reading

Rule limiting lawyer claims of “expertise” is unconstitutional, says Florida district court

Posted in Advertising and Solicitation, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
A Florida Bar rule blocking a personal injury law firm from stating that it specializes in mass-tort cases is unconstitutional as applied, a Florida federal district court recently held.  The court enjoined the Florida Bar from enforcing its Rule 4-7.14(a)(4), which prohibits statements “that a lawyer is … a specialist, an expert, or other variations of those terms,” unless the… Continue Reading

LegalZoom GC sees self-help model as legal-services solution; others see problems

Posted in Licensing, Social Media and Internet, Unauthorized practice
With the goal of positioning his on-line legal forms company as a solution to America’s access-to-justice problem, Chas Rampenthal, General Counsel of LegalZoom, zoomed through my home state last week, with two speaking engagements.  I caught his speech at a breakfast meeting at my home-town bar association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (@clemetrobar). A panacea for the under-served? Despite… Continue Reading

Keeping your client out of social media trouble — how far can you go?

Posted in Social Media and Internet
Your domestic relations client has some really unfortunate Face Book posts that she put up before you filed for divorce on her behalf.  Your personal injury client has some pictures on Instagram that seem to depict him riding a surfboard, despite his claimed injury.  And your business client, charged with producing a defective product, has an FAQ… Continue Reading

Verizon says legal departments among most likely to fall for phishing scam

Posted in Competence, Law Practice Management, Social Media and Internet
As Willie Sutton supposedly said, he robbed banks “because that’s where the money is.”  That also explains why law firms and lawyers are increasingly the targets of cyber-intrusion, particularly phishing scams.  Apparently, phishing in legal waters can yield a full net of stolen information. “Most likely” to take the bait Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations… Continue Reading