“Online networks are a fantastic tool for identifying expertise in the fields in which general counsel are looking to rein in outside counsel,” Eugene Weitz, an in-house attorney at Paris-based Alcatel Lucent, said in an interview. “Experts bubble up who have the ability to show their knowledge online.”
Some lawyers show a little too much online, though. That can get them into trouble. It can get them reprimanded by the bar, fined, or fired. This weekend, John Schwartz of the New York TImes did a nice round-up of lawyers’ Facebook fiascos.
Some “no-nos” when it comes to online behavior, after the jump.
Here are some things good lawyers don’t do, courtesy of the New York Times:
- Don’t go on your blog and call your judge an “Evil, Unfair Witch.” Florida attorney Sean Conway wrote about a post about Judge Cheryl Aleman over at JAABBlog, and the First Amendment did not come to his rescue. He was reprimanded by the Florida bar and fined.
- Don’t blog about the details of your cases and clients, and refer to the robed one as “Judge Clueless.” Illinois assistant public defender Kristine A. Peshek used her blog, “The Bardd [sic] Before the Bar – Irreverant [sic] Adventures in Life, Law, and Indigent Defense,” as an outlet for 19 years of pent up resentment (excerpts here). It brought more release than she intended. When it was discovered, she was fired.
- If you’re on a jury, don’t blog about it. It can get you suspended from practicing and fired AND fined $14,000, like Frank Wilson of California.
- Don’t ask the judge to suspend your trial for a funeral, if you’re actually planning on partying all week. Especially if the judge is your Facebook friend and gets your partying status updates. Texas Judge Susan Criss will tattle on you to the American Bar Association, though she will leave your name out of it.
The New York Times does note that lawyers are not the only ones to get into trouble online. Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit was involved in controversy over off-color material on his family web server that was (inadvertently) accessible to the public. And we wrote earlier this year about North Carolina judge Carlton Terry Jr., who was reprimanded for ex parte communication with defense counsel via Facebook wall.
Have you had any Facebook faux pas impact your legal work? Add to the horror stories in the comments.
A Legal Battle: Online Attitude vs. Rules of the Bar [New York Times]
When Talking Smack About a Judge, Proceed With Caution [WSJ Law Blog]