Job Tips: Lawyers On Social Media

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This story about anonymous tweets costing a prosecutor her job is not about a Las Vegas lawyer, but it easily could be. What are your thoughts on social media use as a lawyer? There are obviously those that avoid it completely, while others embrace it in every form. We see lawyers like the ones linked in the comments yesterday who are going viral for their posts, while others like this lawyer who lost her job. How do you use social media in your job? Do you use it for work or is it completely separate? Are you friends with your co-workers on any platform other than LinkedIn? Do you have advice for other lawyers about social media?

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Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 4:49 pm

For obvious reasons, elected judges need to be even more careful with social media than attorneys need to be, but it definitely can spell problems for attorneys as well.

Some time ago, a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney posted material on his website(it was either a website for his law practice, or perhaps an election website as he was running for Municipal of Justice Court at around that time).

In the area where he lists his hobbies or interests he said something along the line of "breaking off my shoe in some prosecutor's a**".

At that time he was sitting as an Alternate Judge(in Justice Court, or possibly Municipal.)

Our sitting D.A. at the time was somewhat less than amused or impressed by all this, and let his displeasure be clearly known. As a result of the D.A.'s chagrin, and presumably other forces in operation as well,the attorney was removed form the Alternate list.

And siting as an Alternate is an opportunity most enjoy,as it serves as break from the practice, one gets a little taste of matters from a judicial perspective, and if one performs long enough and well enough as an alternate, and is highly regarded in such capacity, it can be a factor which enhances one's chances of eventually getting appointed to a full-time gig on the bench.

This is an example of how the stakes are much higher than they used to be prior to social media. Had this occurred a few years earlier, and he just made that joke privately to select attorneys that he liked and trusted, there presumably would have been no real fall out. But since he posted (theoretically for the entire world to see)that he enjoys breaking his shoe off in the arse of some hapless prosecutor, the stakes are that much higher.

But in addition to him being removed as an Alternate, if memory serves this was also an election issue to some extent(either some opponent made an issue of it and/or there were media article(s)about it).

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 5:14 pm

This will sound somewhat cynical but those in high risk practice areas like criminal, drug addiction, some areas of family law, etc.; the last thing you want is for any of those clients to know each other. For example, as "friends" on FB, etc. There they can plot to harm the attorney, nuisance Bar complaints, and/or compare pricing (they might not understand why cases are priced differently). I (small solo) eventually gave up all social media for the reasons just stated. Also, it seems risky re NRPC and confidentiality to even acknowledge someone is a client. For example, just because someone "friend requests" me doesn't mean I can ask, "Hey, how's the DV counseling going?" Even acknowledging they are a client (if I'm in a specialty area) seems risky. It seems similar to the STD doctor seeing a patient in the mall and saying, "Hey, how's that rash?"

anonymous
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anonymous
February 7, 2020 7:34 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

I've become more cautious about what I post on Facebook. Other than keeping in contact with some old friends who I probably would lose touch with otherwise, it is mostly pictures of kittens and puppies these days. Twitter is a different story… probably should make that account a bit more anonymous come to think of it. I will occasionally get a FB friend request from a client, but I will not accept those until after the matter is closed (and assuming the outcome was reasonably good).

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 8, 2020 12:48 am
Reply to  Anonymous

I do not friend or accept friend requests on Facebook to/from clients on my personal Facebook page. I also restrict access to my info to 'friends of friends', although I may be switching it to 'friends' only and not one further level. If I don't actually know someone in person and they aren't actually a friend of mine in real life, they aren't on my Facebook friends list. I often bitch about clients on my Facebook page.
I have a business page for clients. Personal page for actual friends.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 9, 2020 5:56 am
Reply to  Anonymous

I occasionally, but rarely, get Facebook friend requests for clients, and when I do, I hit the "accept" button. What's the big deal? To me, it's no different from saying hello to a client at the grocery store. I have been known to "unfriend" after the conclusion of a particularly contentious representation, but that's not routine. I put in my Facebook profile I do not discuss litigation matters on Facebook and in 12 years or so on Facebook, I've only had one client even come close to a violation of that rule.

As for Twitter, I got off Twitter several years ago because it made me angry. I don't need to go out of my way to find opportunities to get angry. So I left Twitter, deleted my account, and increased the net total of happiness in my life.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 5:25 pm

I admit that I don't known the answer, but what about attorneys using social media for advertising. Do you have to report all that to the bar for approval or something? Is that more work than it's worth?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 9:41 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

ALL ads, specifically now including social media ads, must be delivered to the State Bar. For each ad, you can pay for pre-approval / safe harbor or you can deliver after the fact and hope for the best.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 9:53 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

Is it that black and white though? The Rule specifically excludes "websites." Isn't facebook a website?

I truly don't know what the bar's position on this. I think the rule is confusing at best.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 11:18 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

Yes, "your" website is excluded. Arguably if you have several websites they are all excluded. Facebook is a social media platform, and it is not "your" website.
Nonetheless, if you have a Facebook page and only post pics of kittens and your breakfast, you're likely in the clear. But if you pay FB to run a FB ad, the borg demands to see that – each one.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 11:33 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

The Rule was updated in 2018.
From the petition: "However, given the increased use of social media for lawyer advertising, the Taskforce recommended expanding the scope of the filing requirements by establishing a 'bright line' regulation that could be applied consistently by requiring the filing of all advertisements that are disseminated in exchange for something of value."

Kingdom-growing ass clowns. They claimed the question in front of them was whether lawyers' online ads should be subject to Nevada's filing requirement. Bullshit. The question should be why the hell we have an 11-member taskforce for reviewing ads, when we are 1 of only 3 states requiring ads be filed. Get rid of the entire filing requirement, get rid of the 11 member panel, and join the other 47.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 10, 2020 7:20 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

So what if a business has a Facebook business page that they regular post on, but do not pay for the promoted ads?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 10, 2020 7:47 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

If you want to post on FB, feel free. Want to blog? Knock yourself out. Want to spend $100 on Google Ads? Pay $100 to the Bar, plus $$ for pre-approval. Want to boost one of your FB posts? Pay the Bar.

Oh, and lest you think that you can simply run the ad, stop it after a while, and never think about it again, the Bar has 4 years from the time they become aware of the ad to beef you.

Kingdom building ass clowns. There is no rational reason why the Bar should be involved in pre-approving Attorney advertising.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 5:41 pm

I have an anonymous twitter account, and I don't ever post anything that is specific to my practice on it. I guess theoretically if you looked at everything I posted and everyone I followed, and you knew me, you might be able to put it together, but even then, I don't post anything that is likely to stir the pot. You could probably tell what I think about modern politics, but you could also get that from talking to me.

I don't have a Facebook account, nor Instagram, Reddit, TikTok, Myspace, etc. My Linkedin profile is super boring.

I'm not saying that everyone needs to play it safe, but I also feel like I've got zero chance of having my life go to hell because of social media, and that's the way I like it. I'll get my risk-taking kicks elsewhere.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 7:24 pm

Can't find the website that lists everyone who is running for election/reelection in the Eighth Judicial District Court – can someone post a link?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
February 7, 2020 9:26 pm

For those of your who practice in federal court:

Would you / your firm use a service that automatically (and without incurring additional PACER fees) saved a copy of all your electronic notices / documents to the cloud so you could retrieve them any time later without having to pay PACER fees?

Would you pay $20 / year (yes, "year") for such a service?

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 11:16 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

The first download from the notice of electronic filing is free, so this is just paying for convenience.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 7, 2020 11:18 pm
Reply to  Anonymous

If it automatically saved it and was dummyproof, sure. However if it simply provided the ability to save it, no thank you.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 8, 2020 12:27 am
Reply to  Anonymous

When you open your document, control + shift + s is a quick way to save the doc, you can backup your computer to the cloud just as easily.

Anonymous
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Anonymous
February 8, 2020 12:54 am
Reply to  Anonymous

CourtDrive.com already does this for $49/month for our 5-6 attorney firm, stores it 'in the cloud' and allows me to bulk download all of the PDFs from a certain case at any time. For a 1-2 attorney firm its only $29/m. Basically around $10-$15/m per attorney.

Richard Simmons
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Richard Simmons
February 8, 2020 8:21 am

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faizan
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faizan
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