Tag Archives: social media

Twitter Nightmares: Mitigating Social Media Risk & Compliance For Employers

This week, Bloomberg reported that Snapchat’s daily active users, at 150 million, had surpassed that of Twitter. Twitter doesn’t disclose its number of daily active users (which is estimated at around 140 million daily active users by external surveyors), so it has yet to confirm the metric. Nevertheless, major business headlines seem concerned; Forbes wrote today, “Is Snapchat Threatening Twitter?”

And, it’s enough for litigators to realize that Twitter, with a whopping 310 million monthly users, like other social media sites, makes up an important market.

From safety to theft to libel, social media is hotbed of lawsuits.

Just today it was announced that social media mogul Mark Zuckerberg’s Twitter and Pinterest pages were compromised after a hacker or hacking group named “OurMine Team” temporarily pirated Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s accounts.

Zuckerberg, who hasn’t tweeted since 2012, apparently sent a tweet today reading, “Hey, [Mark Zuckerberg], You were in [the] Linkedin Database with the password ‘dadada’! DM for proof.”

LinkedIn settled a consolidated class action lawsuit stemming from a June 2012 data breach that compromised 6.5 million hashed passwords in 2014, for which we can only assume Zuckerberg was victim. It has since been required to implement data security protocols using the industry standard encryption methods of salting and hashing for at least five years.

This is not the first time Twitter has made the news (or the docket).

Back in 2009, Amanda Bonnen took part in the first ever twitter-related lawsuit. In it, Horizon Realty Group contended that Bonnen defamed Horizon by tweeting to her friends about the apartment she rented from them, “You should just come anyway. Who said sleeping in a moldy apartment was bad for you? Horizon realty thinks it’s ok.” Horizon alleged this was libel and demanded at least $50,000. Eventually Horizon’s suit was dismissed on the grounds the tweet was too vague to meet the definition of libel.

Since then, tweets have made up a major concern for companies. Reputation and revenue are on the line in 40 characters or less.

In a similar incident, Chipotle was recently sued for firing employee, James Kenney. The 38-year-old war veteran sent a negative comment about the restaurant via Twitter. According to Philadelphia Magazine, Kennedy’s tweet read, “@ChipotleTweets, nothing is free, only cheap #labor. Crew members make only $8.50hr how much is that steak bowl really?”

Unfortunately for the food chain, U.S. Labor Laws protect employees’ rights to free speech, and a Philadelphia judge ruled that Chipotle needed to rehire Kennedy—with back pay.

Employees’ social media activities frequently play an important role in workplace investigations. Yet, when investigating harassment, discrimination or other employee-related claims employers must be aware of specific laws that restrict employers’ requests (and access to) an employee’s social media accounts and posts.

Fifteen states have passed laws that limit the employer’s authority over employees’ social media accounts, and many more are not far behind. No matter how serious the investigation, one peek at an employee’s social media account could become a costly, non-compliance nightmare.

If your firm doesn’t already know best practice solutions for conducting workplace investigations legally and effectively, now is the time.

Attend the Center for Competitive Management’s audio conference, “Workplace Investigations: Using Social Media Legally & Effectively while Limiting Risk” on Tuesday, June 7, 2016 from 2:00 PM to 3:15 PM Eastern and learn: 

  • Key restrictions under state social media laws
  • Legal pitfalls to avoid when conducting discrimination investigations in the workplace
  • How to conduct compliant discrimination/harassment/threat/defamation investigations
  • When you can and cannot ask for an employee’s passwords
  • What employee conduct the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) protects and the finer points of the guidelines it has provided.
  • Employee privacy dangers and what defines a ‘Reasonable Expectation of Privacy’
  • Discussion of cases where social media was misused
  • Broader implications for using social media in applicant screening/hiring
  • What multi-state employers must consider when drafting social media policies for investigations
  • Steps to take right away to be sure your current social media and investigation practices and policies are compliant 

And afterward, go ahead and tweet about it. You’re covered.

 

-WB

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Blogging Backlash & Lessons In What (Not) To Post

Recently, the community blog PLOS Biologue removed a blog post by two journalists Charles Seife and Paul Thacker that criticized the lack of transparency by scientists.

The article can still be read in a cached form here, in which it states:

“In the wake of several embarrassing scientific debacles where financial conflicts played a prominent role — the death of Jesse Gelsinger,[i] the delayed decision to pull Vioxx and Bextra from the U.S. market,[ii] and the misconduct of Andrew Wakefield,[iii] to name a few — scientists, clinicians, publishers, regulators, and journalists began to beat a steady drumbeat to march research toward transparency.”

The post goes on to discuss various instances where e-mails from scientists have revealed the extent to which industry experts control the scientific literature to promote their own products and private gain.

At the end, the journalists conclude, “In short, those working to improve public welfare should oppose attempts to embolden government entities to withhold public information, thus threatening public health and the public trust in science.”

PLOS Biologue pulled the post after severe backlash by its readers, arguing the post was “not consistent with at least the spirit and intent of our community guidelines.”

Keith Kloor, author of the Nature news article mentioned in the retracted post, told Ivan Oransky of Retraction Watch that he disagreed with the decision to remove the article, stating:

“As much I think the PLOS post is deeply flawed and erroneous, it bothers me that it was retracted. 1) The official explanation is really vague. Not very transparent! 2) I have to wonder if there was intense pressure brought to bear from scientists…I find myself in the odd position of defending the flawed PLOS post from these presumed pressures, in part because I’ve been the subject of similar pressure campaigns. (Of course, I’m only assuming pressure was brought to bear. I have no idea if this was actually the case.)”

This instance provides law firms two important lessons about blogging. First, blogging is not easy. Readers—even online—create a discerning audience who feel free to openly and harshly criticize authors.

Second, blogging—while crucial to the survival of a company’s marketing strategy today—is as dangerous as it is beneficial. It is reported that the number of blogs published by Am Law 200 law firms has grown twelvefold in the last seven years, according to Above The Law (ATL), quoting the Am Law 200 Blog Benchmark Report 2015 from LexBlog.

In the same time frame, the number of firms publishing blogs has more than quadrupled to a total of 163 firms. And eighteen of the top 25 firms are blogging, according to the same source (via ATL).

With all these firms blogging, it’s important to remember that content matters. Just as easily as your firm can attract a wider audience or client base through its posts, it can alienate them.

Which firms may have the most at stake? It’s hard to say, but Fox Rothschild has the most blogs, with 39, and Sheppard Mullin places second with 29 blogs. Womble Carlyle follows closely with 22 blogs, and finally DLA Piper just misses the podium in fourth place, with 21 blogs, according to ATL.

What are these law firms talking about?

  • Employment and labor blogs (132 publications)
  • Corporate and commercial law (104)
  • Financial (100)
  • Intellectual property (73)
  • International (64)
  • Healthcare (55)
  • Administrative (52)
  • Technology (50)
  • Energy (47)
  • Real estate and construction (43)

Finally, you may have guessed, but mobile visits (visits conducted via smartphone or tablet) now account for 25 percent of global Internet traffic —and increase from 14 percent one year ago (via ATL).

So, decide with your marketing team and certainly name partners what message your law firm is hoping to send with its posts. Also come up with a plan for retractions (if any) or legal responsibility for the opinions in the posts. Like all things at the intersection of technology, law, and business, create a policy or manual for your blogging strategy.

In the end, blogging does more good than bad. After all, without blogging or reading others’ blogs, your firm may never know about interesting, informative upcoming events, like the following audio conferences:

  • Counsel’s Guide to Trade Secret Protection: Preventing and Avoiding Costly Errors and Penalties
    • Wednesday, September 16, 2015
  • Reclassifying Exempt Employees: Ensuring Wage and Hour Compliance
    • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 
  • Excel Pivot Tables: Shortcuts, Tricks, and Time-Saving Tips to Crunch Data More Efficiently
    • Tuesday, September 29, 2015 
  • Writing Effective Emails: Mastering The Number One Tool for Business Communication
    • Friday, October 2, 2015
  • Compensating Millennial Associates: Customizing Compensation and Rewards for Increased Productivity and Firm Profitability
    • Thursday, October 8, 2015
  • Partner Compensation: Keys to Compensating Succession and Client Transfers
    • Thursday, November 5, 2015 

To attend, click here.

C4CM audio conferences are live, interactive sessions presented over the telephone. You can attend from any location with phone access. You pay just one low registration fee for as many participants as you wish at one call-in location. Listen in from the convenience of your home, your office or in your conference room with your entire team and immediately put what you’ve learned to work in your department.

Need to reach a wider audience with your posts? Find out how, here.

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Is The Future Bright For Non-Blogging Law Firms?

Your firm may think that it’s above e-gossip or online blogging. But, that’s also what renown law firm K&L Gates thought before its dispute with online reporter, Law360.

Above The Law writer, David Lat, describes the incident with an excerpt from the Law360 piece in his article, “Barbarians at the K&L Gates.”

“Flat profits and spreading concern about the firm’s ability to keep talent are among the reasons more than 80 partners have K&L Gates LLP since the beginning of the year, an exodus that includes many up-and-coming leaders who had been seen as key to the firm’s future, according to some partners who recently left and other experts,” quotes Lat on July 23, 2015.

“Those leaving the 2,000-lawyer firm include rising partners in prized corporate and financial practices and a number of high-profile veterans, including intellectual property litigation heavyweight Michael Bettinger [who moved to Sidley in San Francisco]. Litigators Greg Jackson and Danny Ashby joined veteran Steve Korotash, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission associate director, in a jump to Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP’s white-collar group in Dallas in March.”

Although K&L Gates Chair Peter Kalis was quickly ready to refute this depiction of his business—a depiction that also made its way into a Blomberg article—Kalis lacked an online presence. He and his firm were at a disadvantage in spreading their side of the story.

Notorious legal blogger Kevin O’Keefe followed up with his own Above The Law post titled, “Non-Blogging Law Firm Managing Partners And CEOs Playing With Fire?” in which he writes, “[a] memo leaked to Above The Law and Kalis spoke to Bloomberg on July 29th for a July 30th piece reporting that the partner departures were a natural result of the firm’s strategy.”

“I can’t help but see the irony in Kalis calling for everyone at K&L to take a stand in the media when neither he nor they have an effective media presence. Where’s their voice?”

And that’s the problem with being a Luddite in law. The most efficient and effective way to defend your firm’s image and, by proxy, your clients is the world wide web. After all, it’s in the name, the audience is world-wide.

Perhaps you already host a law firm blog but your posts don’t seem to go anywhere. Delivery mechanisms are equally important to social media.

Here are a few tips on how to get your content shared. But, beware, with every benefit to technology comes certain pitfalls of which your firm should be weary.

1. Publish your posts on media aggregators.

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.

Beware: 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.

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.

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

3. Create interesting content.

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.

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

4. Do your research.

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.

Beware: 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.

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.

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

In the end, it’s possible to circulate your firm’s strategy about hiring, firing, and work ethic before a biased, and certainly less-informed secondary source scoops you.

Start small by using the above tips to get your firm’s content shared on social media.

Last tip: proofread, never post when emotional or angry, and generally be sure it’s content that your firm truly wants 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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New Supreme Court Ruling On Free Speech & Social Media: What Your Law Firm Should Know

Among the myriad possibilities that the Internet age brought to Americans—such as online shopping and instant GPS location—came an equal number of threats to our sanity and security—like cyber attacks and online bullying.

Courts are still reviewing the legal status of the digital businesses that may or may not add value to society, like Airbnb and Uber, or conflict with First Amendment Rights. But yesterday, in an 8-1 decision, the Supreme Court made strides to rule on free speech and social media.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor or a Pennsylvania man who posted violent messages on Facebook and was convicted under a federal statute. The man, Anthony Elonis, testified that some of his violent posts on Facebook were partly inspired by rap star Eminem and posted as a therapeutic response to cope with depression.

Elonis’ lawyer emphasized, “The First Amendment’s basic command is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds it offensive or disagreeable,” according to CNN.

The Supreme Court agreed with Elonis. The Court decided that intent must be firmly established before a person can be criminally prosecuted for words they post online, whether or not the average person may perceive these words as threatening.

“Wrongdoing must be conscious to be criminal,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. wrote for the seven-member majority.

“Our holding makes clear that negligence is not sufficient to support a conviction,” continued Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.

Although the Court decided that the legal standard to convict Elonis was too low, they did not tackle the larger constitutional issue at hand: what is the proper standard?

“There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you,” Elonis wrote in one post, according to the New York Times.

“Enough elementary schools in a ten mile radius to initiate the most heinous school shooting ever imagined,” he wrote in another.

At what point can online messages constitute a real, tangible, and prosecutable threat?

Has the Internet become a field of free-reign when it comes to expression? How can lawyers establish intent based purely on statements expressed via social media?

At the same time, had the Supreme Court upheld Elonis’ previous conviction (for which he was jailed 44 months), suddenly Americans would be held accountable to a criminal degree for every statement they make online—even when the posts are simply meant to vent, not threaten.

Justice Thomas, however, would have upheld Mr. Elonis’s conviction. In a minority opinion (via NYT), he said:

“This failure to decide [by the majority] throws everyone from appellate judges to everyday Facebook users into a state of uncertainty.”

That it does.

In today’s Facebook world, lawyers have an obligation to perform research on social media sites during investigations. And, knowing where the line is drawn is crucial to keeping out of ethical trouble.

Even when it’s not the primary source of prosecution, like in Elonis’ case, 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.

So, how can you effectively use social networks to gather information to gain a legal edge while ethically keeping out of trouble, particularly in light of this SCOTUS ruling?

Take the Center For Competitive Management (C4CM)’s comprehensive webinar, “Using Social Media in Legal Investigations: Traversing the Ethical Minefield,” which explores key strategies to improve your legal investigation on social media while keeping yourself safe from legal and ethical pitfalls.

This webinar, along with other online training resources, can be found online here.

The Supreme Court may not want to address the larger ethical issue at hand with social media and free speech, but your law firm can.

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The 57th Grammy Awards & Benefits Of Blogging For Law Firm Professionals

These days people crave real-time reports.

This week, Beyonce, Sam Smith, and Pharrell Williams top the 57th Grammy Awards with six nominations each. But, the awards telecast has surprisingly little airtime. There are far more categories and performances in the Grammys than regular audiences will see. This is why some sites, such as Monkey See, Vox, and Entertainment Weekly, look to live-blogging during the ceremony.

Although it seems unlikely that law firm professionals will start live-blogging courtroom events (although, anything is possible), there are myriad reasons for lawyers to blog. It may not be as riveting a performance as Taylor Swift, but there are certainly other reasons besides entertainment from which you will benefit. Here are a few:

1. Productive Diversion. Angry birds and Pinterest can certainly fill up your free time. So will tracking this year’s film and music awards shows. However, a personal blog allows attorneys to make more productive use of their lunch hour.

Stuart Brown wrote in his book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul writes, “I have gathered and analyzed thousands of case studies that I call play histories. I have found that remembering what play is all about and making it part of our daily lives are probably the most important factors in being a fulfilled human being.”

When moving physical locations is impossible (law firms frown upon playground breaks for attorneys), briefly browsing the Internet for fun, diverting subjects, videos, or photos can substitute as “play.”

“The ability to play is critical not only to being happy, but also to sustaining social relationships and being a creative innovative person.”

Writing about your favorite sports team, commenting on news items, or reposting interesting videos are each great ways to maintain a positive personal attitude in an often stressful environment.

2. Hone Your Writing Skills. Lawyers write briefs and motions all day, but practice (so they say) makes perfect. In addition to honing your writing skills for legal briefs, a personal blog can also help lawyers to hone their skills in writing communications for clients.

Blogs, by nature, are more informal and cater to a different audience. Practice colloquializing legalese. Clients will be grateful to (finally!) fully understand the status of their case with your newfound informal communication.

3. Brush Up On News. Although many lawyers already watch the evening news or read the morning paper, a lawyer’s professional work benefits from being up-to-date on current events. Brushing up on recent news is fodder for elevator conversation with colleagues, and, now, it can be fodder for editorial content on your personal blog.

4. Discover A Different Area Of Law. Depending on your practice, the day-to-day legal work you are conducting may or may not be your primary interest. So, when you’re tired filing patent applications, use a personal blog as an outlet to read and research an area of law that attracts you most.

As a younger attorney, sometimes BigLaw dominates your time with pages and pages of doc review. A personal blog allows you to return to those challenging student days of mock trial and competition. Not every day at work will be intellectually stimulation. But, everyday of blogging can be.

5. Networking. Ever since the “good old days,” lawyers have had to rely on networking to boost their practice by reputation and name recognition.

Kevin O’Keefe, an avid law blogger, wrote about such old-school practices on his website Real Lawyers Have Blogs, “You went out and mingled. You left the marketing clothing behind. You entered into a conversation with the people you wanted to leave an impression with. You spoke at conferences. You networked at conferences and community charitable events to build trust, build relationships and to build word of mouth.”

A blog can continue this sort of personal interaction with the community. But, according to O’Keefe, many lawyers don’t understand that a law firm blog—more than a website or ad in the yellow pages—isn’t for marketing, it’s for relationship-building.

“Now we have lawyers and law firms who never understood that blogging was networking through the net, apparently giving up on the philosophy of that relationships and reputation build business.”

So, in addition to joining LinkedIn, online professional groups, and social media networks, give personal blogging a try in order to increase your online visibility. But, remember that a blog—much like attendance at a town council or a casual conversation with a neighbor—is meant to endear trust by your clients, not ensnare them in another poorly-disguised legal advertisement.

Need more tried-and-true, old-fashioned advice for lawyers operating in these techy times? Catch one of C4CM’s audio courses, live-streaming, here: http://www.c4cm.com/lawfirm/audioconferences.htm

There may not be as much music in them as the Grammys, but they will certainly be on-key when it comes to law firm management consulting.

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Reach, Engagement & Shareability: Metrics That Matter For Law Firm Social Media & Attracting New Clients

The Internet age. Upside, you get to work from home when you don’t feel like going to the office. Downside, you have to work at home when there’s a blizzard.

Alleviate your workload through social media, if not through a snow day (due to Juno’s underwhelming presence).

Social media has empowered businesses and consumers alike. Individuals have never held so much influence in changing the world with just one click of a button. At the same time, businesses are empowered to advertise their products and services to a market much larger than before.

At first, law firms were a bit slow to take advantage of digital days. Not anymore. Now it’s necessary to task young associates with managing your Facebook page, Twitter account, and—hopefully—blog posts, or risk your bottom line by falling behind.

Here’s how your firm gets noticed:

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 wriste 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: 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. Consumers would rather see the “Yeti Seen Prowling the Streets Near Boston” than your tips about hiring Of Counsel at your company.

4. Do your research.

Upside: If you know what time your readers are logging 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. In fact, the Social Law Firm Index, developed by the Above The Law Blog has a formula that measures social-media metrics. It looks at:

Reach. Represents the total number of unique people who had an opportunity to see the firm’s content. Reach would include number of followers on Twitter and/or LinkedIn, company page likes on Facebook, and followers or subscribers on other social media channels (for example: YouTube channel subscribers or Slideshare followers).

Engagement. Measures the actual interaction with the firm’s content via social media. This would include comments or likes (for status updates) on Facebook, RTs or mentions on Twitter, and likes on LinkedIn.

Owned Media. An assessment of the firm’s own site (including microsites) based on, among other things, the proportion of non-promotional content, frequency of updates, and shareability of content.

So, what conclusions were drawn from this study?

First, size matters. If you’re a small law firm, it’s likely that your reach will never meet that of a Top-20 firm. See, for example, the Top 10 ranking in this Social Law Firm Index here.

But, there’s still hope for small firms. There was a much lower correlation between firm size and engagement. That means small firms can still have high interaction by potential clients in terms of likes (for status updates) on Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as retweets on Twitter.

It’s quality—not quantity—that matters.

The next finding is that from 2013 to 2014, the largest U.S. firms improved both the reach and audience engagement levels by more than 60 percent, on average. That means firms are getting more savvy about their social media and—more importantly—people are listening.

For law firms looking for reasons why they should spend time and money on social media, this finding is especially pertinent. Consumers of legal services are reaching out via social media. Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, and Twitter are helping reach new clients at an increasing rate.

Finally, the last important finding worth mentioning is that many firms that were lagging behind in 2013 moved to catch up with market leaders. And this was achieved at rates much more significant than the improvement among already active firms.

What does this mean for you? There’s still time to push social media at your law firm.

Your firm won’t regret that embarrassing Tweet sent out to its thousands of followers; it will only regret not tweeting at all.

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?

As more and more businesses incorporate social media into the promotion of their products and services, they’re also finding that unauthorized use of their trademarks, service marks and trade names are emerging through these same channels.

In fact, a global infringement that once took weeks, months or years to occur, can now take shape as fast as someone can hit “enter” on their keyboard. And, once the infringement is out there in cyberspace, there’s no way of knowing if the offending material is ever truly deleted.

Take the Center for Competitive Management’s audio course, “Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media: Policing and Protecting Against Brand Infringement,” to learn more.

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Bird? Plane? No, It’s Your Employer & Its Drone.

What would you do with a personal drone?

Would you have your neighborhood Chinese restaurant send food by drone? Would you attach a camera and see if your kids are really doing their homework upstairs?

As an employer, maybe you’d monitor exactly how productive your employees are during the day—find out if it’s true that mice play while the cat’s away.

Sounds far-fetched, but the future of drones in our workplace and everyday life is imminent. Prices are coming down, leaving drones at increasingly accessible rates of $500 on Amazon.

If you’re a truck driver, beware. Drones may be taking your job.

“Drones will augment the delivery world,” Mary Cummings, a drone expert who teaches at MIT and Duke University, told ABC News.

“And one could argue that they would be much more environmentally friendly since they could take cars off the road for last mile delivery and help reduce congestion.”

But, if you’re a farmer, your job never got easier.

“Crop dusting is the most dangerous job in general aviation with a high accident rate. Drones cannot only do that job better, but much safer,” said Cummings to ABC News.

Creating a safer world full of unmanned drones, sounds exciting! Or is it?

With any new gadget comes new glitches.

A drone that flew over a Martha Stewart’s farm and took footage is now at the foot of a long lawsuit.

Questions about the right to privacy and sharing airspace are topical today more than ever. It’s so easy with a click of a finger to send an algorithm that will babysit–spy–on your friends, family, colleagues, even competitors.

In the workplace, employers who don’t know the rules for monitoring employees are sitting ducks for lawsuits. In fact, you’ve got some legal leeway to monitor, but it only goes so far before you’ve stepped over the line and sparked a lawsuit.

It’s easy to think you want to keep your “eyes and ears” open with hidden cameras keeping tabs on employees. But, as an employer, you can’t invade employees’ privacy when monitoring email, smart phones, social media, or other technology associated with work.

That means no drones in the boardroom, please.

Missteps can easily occur because technology and the rules surrounding them are evolving rapidly.

To further complicate this already complex issue, you’re also grappling with next-generation issues raised by the use of social media as a business tool and the increasing adoption of “bring-your-own-device” (BYOD) programs. If you allow employees to bring in their own devices, iPads, iPhones, computers, etc., or get on social media, suddenly Discovery for a lawsuit has become invasive and expensive.

Gadgets and devices are portable and affordable these days, which means law firms can’t afford to wait to create internal policies and protocols regarding the use (and abuse) of them.

Is your organization prepared for what’s coming down the pipeline for employee privacy?

Learn more about current strategies and best practices for each emerging trend – especially in legal gray areas, such as:

  • BYOD – bring your own device and the employer’s right to access info on the employee’s own phone
  • Social Media – particularly after hours use that the employer finds and wants to act on
  • GPS Tracking of employees via company phones and company vehicles
  • Hidden Cameras used to monitor employees in the workplace
  • Drones – Bird? Plane? No, it’s your employer and its drone (we’re not kidding).

Attend The Center for Competitive Management (C4CM)’s course, “Employee Privacy and the Complexities of BYOD, Social Media, GPS Tracking & Drones,” on Wednesday, November 5, 2014, from 2 PM To 3:15 PM EST.

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