Tag Archives: social media

Privacy & Ethics In An Internet Age: The Sad Truth For Citizens & Facts For Attorneys

There is no more privacy in America.

Friends. Family. Neighbors. Strangers. They can gather information about your whereabouts, your actions, your accolades, and even your darkest hour.

Take, for example, the case of three people charged with two counts of aggravated assault and other offenses in Philadelphia this week after a horrific attack on two gay men in Center City.

According to an article by The Examiner, about a dozen men and women in the 20s dressed to the nines and started for a night out. They ended up verbally and physically assaulting a homosexual couple based on the victims’ sexual orientation.

Then, assault transformed into theft as one of the suspects stole a bag containing the personal information of one of the victims. By the time police arrived on the scene, the group got away.

Or so they thought.

Philadelphia police quickly released a surveillance video of the suspects, which sent the social media-savvy public in a massive manhunt.

Blog, the Daily KOS, breaks down the process here. First, a Twitter user obtained a photograph that allegedly showed the suspects at dinner and retweeted the photo. Next, Philadelphia residents replied to that tweet with the name and location of the restaurant, located 500 feet from the attack.

Finally, another Twitter used went to the restaurant’s Facebook page and looked at who “checked-in”. Facebook users “checked-in” at the restaurant were easily matched to individuals seen on the surveillance photo.

There are at least a few attorneys—those defending the individuals arrested in the attack—who are gaining business from social media sleuths. But, certainly there are many other law firm professionals and citizens who have some concerns over the implications of incidents like this one.

Why? Let’s briefly consider another incident.

In 2006, an eighteen-year old woman crashed her father’s car into a tollbooth in Orange County, California. She was decapitated in the accident and the local coroner deemed the manner of death so gruesome that he did not allow the girl’s parents to identify her body, according to a recent article in the New Yorker.

“About two weeks after the accident, I got a call from my brother-in-law,” the girl’s father told Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker. “He said he had heard from a neighbor that the photos from the crash were circulating on the Internet. We asked the C.H.P., and they said they would look into it.”

Sure enough, two employees admitted that they had shared the photographs, which were now permanent additions to the World Wide Web of moral depravity.

People told the girl’s father it would all blow over.

“Nevertheless, [her father] embarked on a modern legal quest: to remove information from the Internet. In recent years, many people have made the same kind of effort, from actors who don’t want their private photographs in broad circulation to ex-convicts who don’t want their long-ago legal troubles to prevent them from finding jobs,” writes Toobin.

“Despite the varied circumstances, all these people want something that does not exist in the United States: the right to be forgotten.”

The New Yorker article discusses the U.S. versus European legal opinions about “the Internet’s unregulated idyll” here.

For law firm professionals right here, right now, the issue is very much at large.

When conducting an internal investigation, social media sites are veritable gushers of evidence. But counsel should curb their impulse to freely access and use social media accounts.

The rules surrounding the use of social media for investigations are changing as fast as online media grows and counsel must consider state enforcement rules, professional ethics opinions, and specific terms of use for each social media site.

What are the recent cases and statutes that have curbed some access to social media information? What are best practices for using specific social media platforms in an investigation? When is social media information discoverable? When is it not?

Can your employees at your firm answer all these questions? Are your clients aware of the same?

The New Yorker wants to discuss the right to fade away into the background. But what about when the law is justly brought against human rights violators, as in Philly? What about the rights to atone, stand up, or move forward?

Clearly lawyers are wrestling with many questions regarding the Internet and rights to privacy. At the same time, citizens—of all professions—should start to think about what side they’re on: the right to be forgotten or the right to be remembered.

For that last food for thought, there’s not clear answer. But, to learn more about social media and your law firm investigations, attend the Center for Competitive Management’s audio course “Social Media in Internal Investigations: What Every GC Must Know About Privacy and Ethics,” Wednesday, October 1, 2014, from 2pm to 3:15 EST.

This comprehensive webinar explores different methods for accessing and recording social media evidence, along with pitfalls, and practical tips for establishing an investigation that’s lawful, responsible and yields credible evidence.

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Twitter To Add “Buy Now” Button? How Your Firm Can Profit From Social Media

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 11.57.53 AMTwitter may well become the Internet’s next online shopping platform.

For the first time, a “Buy now” button appeared on multiple tweets this month, all of which included products that link back to a shopping site called Fancy, reports Mashable.

The button only appears on Twitter’s mobile site, not its web version, and the company itself has yet to comment. But, allowing this sort of third-party link to shopping services isn’t at all that surprising.

“A law firm could develop landing pages for ‘simple legal services’ at flat fees and run ‘Buy Now’ ads on Twitter. The Twitter ad schema would enable ultra focused ads to reach locales and various demographic groups,” writes Kevin O’Keefe on a Real Lawyers Have Blogs post.

Sound farfetched? Not really. It’s already happening.

“I would never have dreamed lawyers would buy pre-written blog posts, sell a half hour of their time for $50 per hour on an a legal matching site, sell services via Groupon, or pay $90 per click through on Google Adwords,” admits O’Keefe.

But law firms do, and have.

Even if Twitter doesn’t rollout this new service, there are plenty of other reasons law firms should use social media.

Law firms, LexisNexis, and client management solution providers are just a few of the many legal services groups taking advantage of Twitter. LexisNexis does a great job at using Twitter to build relationships and enhance their visibility and reputation among customers.

LexisNexis has over 26 thousand followers on Twitter. And there’s no wonder why. Its posts are readable, interesting, and we’re all vying to be their next re-tweet.

Taking notes by hand (w/ pen & paper): A must for lawyers ‪http://bit.ly/1mWSKRY via ‪@lawyerist ‪@samglover

Blogger Kevin O’Keefe talks about the many positive takeaways from being re-tweeted by some of these bigger names in legal services:

  1. “I feel an enhanced relationship with the companies and their executives.
  2. I am more apt to speak positively about the companies and their work—when deserved.
  3. I begin to tweet things they blog or share on Twitter. I am more apt to reach out to the companies on ideas.
  4. I view these companies as more innovative and social. While most of the people in the legal profession, including law firms and companies serving the legal profession are slow to adapt to a real social presence, these companies are proving they understand the future of social.”

The last reason being no small thing.

Read more about how to use Twitter effectively as a law firm or legal services entity on O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Twitter is just one social media tool of many. And even if you would never do the same, if you consider it nearly unbelievable, as many as 56 percent of consumers and 72 percent of minorities who searched for an attorney in the past year reported doing so via social media, according to a study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group.

In fact, over one-fifth of survey participants went so far as to consult the social media pages of the specific lawyers or firms that they were considering during this search for legal representation.

So whether or not shoppable tweets are on their way, there’s already more than one reason for law firms to use Twitter.

How can you maximize the potential of social media while ensuring the appropriate use of intellectual property and customer information? What can counsel do to proactively protect brands from infringement by social networking website users?

Listen to C4CM’s audio conference “Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media: Policing and Protecting Against Brand Infringement” and learn about the potential trademark, copyright, and privacy issues presented by the use of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and best practices for the protection of intellectual property and privacy on social media sites, including:

  • Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media
  • Social Media and Defamation, Patent, Copyright, Trademark and Trade Secret
  • Social Media and IP Policies You Need Today
  • Trademark Infringement Threats on Twitter, Facebook and Other Social Networking Websites
  • New Challenges Posed Both to Brand Owners and Users

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Social Media For Law Firms: How To Get Your Content Out There!

So, you’re a law firm manager and you’ve finally got on board with using social media to promote your firm’s services, to evolve with the technological times, and to attract new employees and clients.

Of course, it’s difficult to constantly update your LinkedIn account, Twitter feeds, and blog posts, but you’ve assigned associates for each task and are feeling confident about the endeavor.

The problem is, how do you get people to actually read it?

There are many strategies for increasing the readership of your online legal content—from increasing your number of Twitter followers to increasing the number of website hits by new users.

Here are a few tips on how to get your content shared, and the upsides and downsides of each idea:

1. Publish your posts on media aggregators.

Upside: Websites like Reddit, Shoutwire, and Digg allow individuals to submit links to websites, blog posts, or any Internet-based page. The community of readers then votes up (or down) the link based on a review of its content. Create flashy titles and you’ll likely see in a flash the rise of your readership.

Downside: Comments by readers can be harsh. The anonymity of the Internet allows people to write down criticisms (NSFW) that may end up permanently cached on the World Wide Web.

2. Add website sharing buttons.

Upside: Your firm’s website should have links to all of your social media accounts, as well as ways to share your posts. Programs like “Click to Tweet” make this easy.

Downside: Your firm may need a small amount of Internet savvy to create buttons on your website and restore broken links.

3. Create interesting content.

Upside: This is so obvious your firm is likely already doing it! Nevertheless, remember to write thoughtful arguments accompanied with eye-catching photos. There’s so much competition already when it comes to online content, your firm’s additions must stand out.

Downside: Yes, this requires a little more time and thought to write captivating posts and tweets.

4. Do your research.

Upside: If you know what time your readers are log on then you’ll know the best time to publish your posts. Maybe you’re getting a lot of hits first thing in the morning. People are remiss to start work at 8am and decide to read legal news or browse the web. With this knowledge, you can now set your social media to publish at certain times to target your audience.

Downside: Due diligence on your casework is no longer enough. Time to do due diligence on your business development, too.

5. Crossover multiple social media platforms.

Upside: Happy you finally mastered the art of blogging for your firm? Time to summarize that blog post on your LinkedIn and Facebook page and compile a 140-character hook for your Twitter account. Don’t be afraid to repeat the same ideas on different mediums.

Downside: Now you’ll have to memorize more usernames and passwords. More social media means more potential backlash.

In the end, it’s possible to get your firm’s name and reputation out there.

But, just be careful what your wish for. The New York Police Department (NYPD) recently tried to increase its social media presence to interact with its target audience (“the people”). Instead of wielding the hashtag to promote its officers, however, the NYPD received a top-5 trending Twitter bashtag.

The Assciated Press (via NPR) reports:

“The nation’s largest police force learned the hard way that there are legions online devoted to short-circuiting even the best-intentioned public relations campaign—in this case, the NYPD’s Twitter invitation to people to post feel-good photos of themselves posing with New York’s Finest.

What #myNYPD got instead was a montage of hundreds of news images of baton-wielding cops arresting protesters, pulling suspects by the hair, unleashing pepper spray and taking down a bloodied 84-year-old man for jaywalking.”

So, use the above tips to get your firm’s content shared on social media. Just be sure it’s content that you truly want shared.


The question for organizations is how do you use these tools to open up communications with your workers, candidates and customers, while protecting your reputation as an organization? Attend C4CM’s course, “Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: Developing a Successful Social Media Employer Branding Strategy.

If you’re looking for tips on communication practices in the workplace, read C4CM’s guide “Communication Skills for Managers: Tips, Techniques, and Best Practice Strategies to Communicate More Effectively.

Applying successful communication techniques gives you two important advantages: 1)You’ll create a harder-working and more productive employee workforce, and 2) you’ll be less likely to fall into the clutches of employee lawsuits.

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Is E-mail Outdated? A Law Firm’s 2014 Guide To Best E-Mail (& Productivity) Practices

Remember study hall in school? Wouldn’t it be nice to have one hour every day in the workweek to devote to “homework”—that is, to complete all those deliverables and other documents you couldn’t quite finish between case status meetings and conference calls.

Reading and answering e-mail takes up approximately 28 percent of the average workweek for employees, reports a 2012 study by McKinsey & Company. Communicating and collaborating internally takes up 14 percent of the workweek, and searching and gathering information just 19 percent.

That means, the time that’s left for role-specific tasks—the tasks your employees were actually hired to perform, for which your employees were trained—take up only about a third (39 percent) of the average workweek.

So why does coordinating effort between employees and communication take up so much time and dry up so much productivity?

In many ways, e-mail has transformed menial labor into a performance-eating monster.

E-mail, once a more efficient way of communicating from your law firm in New York to its client in Shanghai, has now become the most abused way of communicating from your law office on Floor 1 to its counterparts on Floor 2.

What’s the solution for this time-sucking glut of a technology? Some experts are calling for a total elimination of the culprit.

Is e-mail over?

Recently in an article with Wired Magazine’s Marcus Wohlsen, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz admitted he had trouble keeping up with the 180 employees he oversaw.

“I would spend weeks collecting information about the state of the world,” explained Moskovitz.

“And by the end, it would be a couple weeks out of date.”

The world has come a long way in terms of digital communication—Twitter feeds, Facebook status updates, Instagram photo posts. Moskovitz left Facebook to establish a single application to combine project management with a communications system. He co-founded such a technology with Justin Rosenstein in their San Francisco start-up company Asana.

Although both Asana founders still use e-mail, “Rosenstein says that, with Asana, he needs just 15 minutes a day to get through the email that needs his attention. The rest of his time, he says, he can devote to real work,” writes Wohlsen in his article for Wired.

“All the email and meetings, all that work about work, all this soul-sucking effort, is not real work. It’s a distraction,” Rosenstein says.

“If we can get rid of that distraction so we can actually get some work done, that just totally opens the doors.”

It may be a couple of years before Asana’s product reaches law firm doors. And, who knows if a new communications platform will ever—in our lifetime—replace the golden standard of e-mail.

Nevertheless, it’s time to stop wasting billable hours on inefficient e-mail habits. Come up with a friendly and effective e-mail guidance policy. One with rules such as:

  • E-mail across U.S. states or national borders, not walls
  • Never use “reply-all”
  • Face time with firm partners goes farther than Facebooking
  • Monday mornings are a firm-wide e-mail blackout. Whatever needs to be said should be conducted in-person or on the phone

Perhaps it’s time law firms and businesses reinstate the school study hall. Choose an hour, an afternoon, or a day to black-out technology and write-in work. A meeting-less morning, a conference-call free afternoon, or e-mail-less day goes a long way in productivity for the firm and project deliverables for your clients.

E-mail is not dead yet, but innovative time-management ideas for your employees might be the next best thing.

Still got a lot on your plate? Read C4CM’s guide: Effective Time Management: Take Control, Tackle Work Flow Chaos and Overcome Productivity Challenges.

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Lawyers: Most Hated Profession Or Public Relations Problem?

Lawyers have been vilified for their professional choices since the Middle Ages; and the number of lawyer jokes has tripled since the 1960s. But, over fifty years later, lawyers are at a new low.

A 2013 study finds we’re a lot closer to fulfilling Shakespeare’s famous wish: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2)

At least, that’s what a recent article by legal blog Above the Law would have us believe,

Above the Law reminds readers that not only are lawyers the most depressed among professionals, they are also the most despised. Which one of the two came first, we may never know.

But, Above the Law does bring much needed attention to an excerpt from the latest Pew Research Center survey on professional public esteem:

“While there have been modest declines in public appreciation for several occupations, the order of the ratings is roughly the same as it was in 2009. Among the 10 occupations the survey asked respondents to rate, lawyers are at the bottom of the list. About one-in-five Americans (18%) say lawyers contribute a lot to society, while 43% say they make some contribution; fully a third (34%) say lawyers contribute not very much or nothing at all.”

In 2009, one in four people agreed lawyers do “a lot” for society’s well being. Today, in 2013, we’ve lost a man. Now, only one and five can say the same thing.

Luckily, lawyers will still find advocates among their own kind. Staci Zaretsky, esquire, and author of the article “Lawyers: The Most Despised Profession in America,” points out:

“If you don’t think lawyers have contributed to society, take a look at the desegregated school you or your children attended. Go register for a concealed-carry permit in a state that once restricted their issuance. Attend a same-sex marriage and bask in the newlyweds’ joy. Burn a flag. Watch a film with a sex scene at the movies. Protest at the funeral of a soldier who gave his life for America.

Do you enjoy any of these things? If so, then reconsider your thoughts on the most despised profession in America.”

However, lawyers should consider doing more. More, that is, to relate to the public and reform the image of the legal profession. With little persuasion, people could be reminded of all the beneficial acts contributed to this country by lawyers.

After all, 25 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence were lawyers—the results of which we all celebrated on the 4th of July.

Yes, teachers, doctors, and the clergy may get more positive face-time on television, but law firms can also orchestrate publicity for their acts of goodwill and charity. Whether it’s hiring a public relations professional or simply beefing up your firm’s website, it’s important to highlight those winning cases.

Reputation is important for gaining clients. PR enhances the image of your firm, but also reinforces what most Americans already know (deep, deep, deep down): that lawyers are looking to uphold rights and liberties of men and women, not restrict them.

In fact, brand loyalty is key in retaining clients. Create a brand people love, and business follows.

To increase your visibility and positive image, utilize social media. Participate in trending hash-tags on Twitter. Participate in hot legal debates and post answers to your clients’ most common questions. Include quirky and endearing profiles of your associates online. Personalize your practice.

Perhaps lawyers are misunderstood because they’re one of the few professions who still lacks a digital voice.

It may be too late to turnaround the image of lawyers as a whole, but it’s not too late to turnaround the image of your firm. And if, one by one, partners take control over their public image, it won’t take much for the health and well being of society (and your firm) to continue.

-WB

Need help? C4CM is there for your firm providing training resources and recordings essential to law firm management. Learn how to limit toxic workplace talk, improve efficiency, and navigate you most complicated Excel questions here.

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56% Of Consumers Use Social Media To Search For Attorneys

 How Your Firm Can Profit From & Avoid Pitfalls Of Social Media

This Spring, Tumblr hit the 100 Million mark—100 million blogs, that is. If we’re talking about numbers in terms of profit, Tumblr far exceeded mere millions. In May, social blogging platform CEO David Karp sold the company to Yahoo! for a cool $1.1 billion.

Karp, for those who don’t already know, is a 26-year old high school drop out who built Tumblr while still living at his mother’s New York City apartment in 2007, writes Brian Warner for Celebrity Net Worth.

In the same period it can take lawyers to settle a single lawsuit, Karp created and sold a billion-dollar business. If there was ever a time to praise the popularity of social media, Tumblr’s milestone in millions of blogs could certainly serve that purpose.

That’s why it’s not surprising to read in a recent study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group that 56 percent of consumers and 72 percent of minorities who searched for an attorney in the past year reported doing so via social media.

In fact, over one-fifth of survey participants went so far as to consult the social media pages of the specific lawyers or firms that they were considering during this search for legal representation, reports Kevin O’Keefe for Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Law is a time-honored profession. As such, it maintains certain traditions and history. Ergo, lawyers aren’t often known for being on the cutting edge of technology.

Nevertheless, most law firms today have a website. Keeping that website up-to-date is critical.

Firm websites help you attract more clients, rise in search engine rankings, keep up with technological developments for electronic legal tools, update your firm and practice area information, and increase interaction with the legal community and community of potential clients, in general.

Recently the Virginia Supreme Court in Horace Hunter v. Virginia State Bar ruled on the extent to which law firms can promote their practice and previous legal wins via a blog or website:

“The Virginia majority held that Hunter did not have to seek clients’ permission to discuss past closed cases, even if there was a possibility that the clients would suffer embarrassment or some other harm by the public airing of their affairs. The court also ruled that Hunter’s blogging about past courtroom successes on his firm’s website constituted an advertisement, even though he also included commentary on the criminal justice system. As a result, the majority said he should have included a standard disclaimer cautioning against too much reliance on past results.” (via Above The Law)

Thus, with proper disclaimers, your firm can join the Twittersphere.

In the end, websites, blogs, Twitter, and other social media are not a new development in technology. The Research Intelligence Group’s survey shows that although the number of Internet users declined with age, a surprising 30 percent of survey respondents above the age of 50 were also professed social media users.

And, among survey respondents, nearly one-quarter made a final selection of a lawyer based, in part, on what they gleaned through their social media research, according to Kevin O’Keefe for Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

So, what are a few “must-haves” for attorney websites?

LexisNexis’ own blog suggests:

  • Areas of Law Practiced. Specify your areas of legal expertise and the services that you offer in each of those areas. If visitors can’t find this information quickly, or if it’s unclear, they are likely to leave the site.
  • Experience. Prospective clients want to know how long you have practiced law and whether you have previously handled cases like theirs.
  • Education. Reassure visitors that you have the know-how to resolve their legal issues. Tell them where you went to law school, and when and where you passed the bar exam.
  • Photos. Offer a glimpse of your personality through pictures, but remember to always use professional-looking shots. People who visit your site are searching for an attorney they can trust, not a drinking buddy.
  • Biographical Data. Sharing information about your family and your interests/hobbies conveys personality and helps build connections with potential clients. Just don’t overdo it. (But if your goal is to secure referrals from corporate counsel, our research indicates you should minimize such details.)

However, training your team in technology serves your clients in more ways than one.

In today’s Facebook world, lawyers use social media to attract clients, but they can also have an obligation to perform research on social media sites during investigations, as well.

Social media profiles are a potential treasure trove of information in litigation. But using social networking can ensnare attorneys in ethical traps in two different ways: (1) when accessing information in someone else’s profile, and (2) when an attorney’s own profile information might be used against them.

How can you effectively use social networks to gather information to gain a legal edge while ethically keeping out of trouble?

C4CM’s comprehensive webinar, Using Social Media in Legal Investigations: Traversing the Ethical Minefieldon July 16, 2013, from 2:00 P.M to 3:15 P.M. Eastern time, explores key strategies to improve your legal investigation on social media while keeping yourself safe from legal and ethical pitfalls.

If you’ve found this blog post via social media, you’re off to a great start. Keep up the momentum by exploring other important online tools for law firm managers here.

With so many consumers consulting social media, it’s time for law firm professionals to (*ah hem*) follow suit.

-WB

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What Law Firms Need To Know About The Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

Earlier this month, during the opening day of the Austin music festival South by Southwest, an audience gathered to commemorate the life and achievements of Reddit founder Aaron Swartz, who—faced with serious computer-related charges—recently committed suicide with the weight of litigation and public pressure on his shoulders.

Aggressive prosecution under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has become the rule rather than the exception in the U.S.

Earlier this week, a federal judge sentenced notorious hacker Andrew Auernheimer to 41 months in prison for illegally accessing email addresses and other data belonging to more than 120,000 iPad subscribers from AT&T’s networks, reports Computer World, in conjunction with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

AT&T alleged it spent more than $73,000 for breach notifications as a result of Auernheimer’s actions. However, in addition to full restitution for damages, U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton of the District Court in New Jersey also attached a prison term.

The breached email addresses belonged to many high-profile names: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York Times CEO Janet Robinson, ABC’s Diane Sawyer, movie producer Harvey Weinstein, and former White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel, to name a few.

But, the true high-profile matter at hand is neither the fame of the hacker nor the celebrity of his victims. It’s the law regulating Internet use and its huge consequences for all world-wide-web users today.

Both private and public lawyers, including the Department of Justice, have been using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to prosecute computer hackers and laypersons alike. Anybody who violates the “terms of service” policy is at risk.

These days, a terms of service policy is more prevalent on websites than legal disclaimers, which only increases your risks of being in violation. Unfortuntately, people are unaware of the law, as well as the fine print it’s regulating.

“When judges or academics say that it is wrong to interpret a law in such a way that everyone is a felon, the Justice Department has usually replied by saying, roughly, that federal prosecutors don’t bother with minor cases—they only go after the really bad guys,” writes Tim Wu in an op-ed for The New Yorker.

“That has always been a lame excuse—repulsive to anyone who takes seriously the idea of a ‘a government of laws, not men.’ After Aaron Swartz’s suicide, the era of trusting prosecutors with unlimited power in this area should officially be over.”

Although the constitutional implications of this law are vast, it’s really the pragmatic ones that are of concern for law firms.

Law firms should take the time to understand this law before creating internal Internet policies. For example, what is your law firm policy on Internet use on company time? What about for desktop computers in the office vs. laptops that employees take home?

Under the Computer Abuse and Fraud Act, employees potentially face criminal sanctions by merely checking the latest Facebook posting or sporting events scores at work when it is not “authorized” by the firm (although more recent cases of litigation are going the other way).

Who is liable for potential breaches of the “terms of service” under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act when employees use firm laptop computers out of the office?

Furthermore, are your clients aware of all the implications of this law for their business and home life?

In light of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, law firms should start to consider providing counseling for those clients who are being prosecuted. Swartz’s suicide is an apt reminder that while you—as a lawyer—may be comfortable with the progress and success of a case, your client may feel uncertain about both its future and his own.

What routines and practices has your law firm put in place to put at ease the minds of its clients?

Whatever your view on the legitimacy of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, it’s important to keep up with its most recent developments. The Volokh Conspiracy Blog provides occasional updates on its status in courts and Congress here.

Some argue, like Wu for The New Yorker, that America’s Common Law ancestry leads to a “rule of a lenity”, where ambiguous criminal laws should (de jure and de facto) favor the defendant.

The Supreme Court states, “When choice has to be made between two readings of what conduct Congress has made a crime, it is appropriate, before we choose the harsher alternative, to require that Congress should have spoken in language that is clear and definite,” (via The New Yorker).

However, if this week’s events surrounding iPad hacker Andrew Auernheimer and his 41 months in prison is any indication, a rule of lenity doesn’t seem to be much of a rule these days at all.

For more information on the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act, and its implications for your law firms, click here.

In 2011, over 100 employers were accused of improper social media practices or policies, according to The Center For Competitive Management. If not to protect your employees from strict law enforcement, protect your firm.

If you’re unsure where to start, try research and a round-table discussion with a mix of junior and senior attorneys. Along with administrators, ask the group to create a social media policy that reflects their own opinions on the matter. Most likely, your employees will know best what types of social media uses actually constitute abuses.

A round-table discussion will also ensure your employees take the time to read workplace policy; after all, they helped write it.

Finally, if you’re still stuck finding solutions, start by attending C4CM’s course on audio CD, Developing a Social Media Policy: Clear Guidelines to Prevent or Reduce Employment-Related Problems.

-WB

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