Facebook

Have you ever sat around and thought, “Hey, I’d love to file a frivolous, nay sanctionable, lawsuit,” but just didn’t know where to get started? Well, you’re in luck — there’s an app for that! Never again will you be left wondering about just how crazy you can get with your harassing complaint.

Hurray for the Internet!

The folks behind it are trying to make a serious point about the high price of frivolous lawsuits. Not sure their motives are entirely pure, but it’s a fun little toy to play with, so let’s do that, shall we?

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I wonder if the driver who honked and made the rude gesture when the light changed at the intersection was as surprised as I was to discover that we were both headed to the law school for a class that he attends and I teach.

– Professor RonNell Andersen Jones of BYU Law School, discussing a recent traffic incident with a law student on Facebook. Her status update has 281 likes.

He’s great at servicing clients.

* Morrison & Foerster just snagged a major government player for its global anti-corruption practice. Congrats to the firm on adding Charles Duross, formerly of the DOJ’s FCPA program, as a partner. [Washington Post]

* General counsel are keeping more and more work in-house, “presumably in order to minimize outside counsel spend.” In the alternative, it could be because the lawyers from the firms are too arrogant. [Corporate Counsel]

* If you dare to reject the Facebook friend request of the judge who’s presiding over your divorce case, then you can count on some retaliation in court. You can also count on the judge getting removed. [WSJ Law Blog]

* If you postponed applying to law school, please think long and hard about why you stopped applying the first time. Only take this advice if anything’s actually changed — like your grades, your LSAT score, or the job market. [Law Admissions Lowdown / U.S. News & World Report]

* “This is a case to restore faith in the old-fashioned idea that divorce is something that lasts forever.” Steven A. Cohen is getting off when it comes to his ex-wife’s RICO claims, but not much else. [Reuters]

* Justin Bieber has hired Miami’s Roy Black to represent him in his DUI and drag racing arrest. This news is most welcome to E! who is salivating over the prospect of The Biebs making a cameo on the Real Housewives where Roy’s wife stars. [People]

* Oh, morons. If the police post that they’re looking for you on Facebook, don’t share that on your personal page. [Legal Juice]

* Virginia’s Attorney General, Mark R. Herring, decided to “pull a Holder” and stop enforcing the state’s gay marriage ban. Welcome, Virginia, to the ranks of progressive states like Utah and Oklahoma. [New York Times]

* Slate’s Dear Prudence got a request for advice from a lawyer. To quote our tipster, “This is just the usual tale of (lawyer) boy meets (lawyer) girl, falls in love, and then gets an inferiority complex because she has been more successful than he.” [Slate]

* Why make data-driven decisions, when rash emotional outbursts are so much more fun? Well, Jay Edelson and Chandler Givens explain why clients need to be counseled to make more logical decisions. [Legal Solutions Blog / Thompson Reuters]

* Husch Blackwell kicked off the 2014 layoffs. In a lot of ways, the folks worst off will be the laid off staff. [Law and More]

* Registration is open for this year’s Lawyernomics conference. Our own David Lat will be speaking. [Avvo]

Throughout 2013, along with our friends at Good2BSocial, ATL researched the social media practices of law firms. The research had three components: (1) a review of the websites and social media profiles of the Am Law 50 across all public platforms, including an assessment of each firm’s publicly available content as well as social reach and engagement (number of followers, comments, etc.); (2) a survey of the firms themselves regarding the extent to which they are currently using social technologies and practices internally; and (3) a survey of the ATL readership to glean the perspective of practicing attorneys and other legal professionals.

We are publishing the results of this research in two stages. Back in December, we published a white paper summarizing our findings and analysis. (Sign up here to receive a free download of the paper.) Our findings show that, while the majority of the Am Law 50 are established on the major public social media platforms, their presence often exhibits only a token effort. Generally speaking, there is little evidence that Biglaw is addressing the social media landscape strategically rather than using it as just another marketing channel for firm news and press releases. That said, some Biglaw firms are distinguishing themselves with the reach, engagement, and creativity of their social media efforts.

Today we publish the second component of our findings: our inaugural Social Law Firm Index, where we identify which specific firms are making the most effective use of social media…

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Edward Snowden

* Now that a federal judge has ruled against the NSA’s domestic spying program, maybe government prosecutors will cut Edward Snowden some slack — or maybe haha, yeah right. [WSJ Law Blog]

* On that note, the ACLU is appealing the other federal ruling that says the agency’s activities are constitutional. The NSA will let you know what the Second Circuit’s decision is this spring. [Guardian]

* Alas, Judge Shira Scheindlin knew from the get-go that her stop-and-frisk ruling would be contested, and she even warned the lawyers involved that they ought to consider a jury. [New York Times]

* “How do you say, ‘I’m married, but not really? I’m divorced, but not really?’” Thanks to Utah’s same-sex marriage ruling, unhappy gay couples who married in other states are rejoicing over the fact that they can finally get divorced. [Deseret News]

* Facebook, a social network that constantly changes its privacy settings to make your life less private, is being sued over its alleged interception and sharing of messages with advertisers. Shocking. [Bloomberg]

* It goes without saying that Sergio Garcia is having a happy new year. The California Supreme Court ruled that the undocumented immigrant will be able to legally practice law in the state. ¡Felicitaciones! [CNN]

‘Manage me, Mark O’Mara.’

Not only have I done nothing wrong in regards to how we managed the defense fund and the online presence for the Zimmerman case, but I think we also set the standard for how these matters should be handled in future high-profile cases that warrant such measures.

Mark O’Mara, former defense attorney to George Zimmerman, commenting on the Florida Bar’s ethics investigation into whether he properly managed his client’s defense fund and social media presence. O’Mara’s full statement can be seen here.

(For all of the trouble O’Mara’s going through, we wondered if the proceeds of this eBay sale for Zimmerman’s artwork would be used to pay his outstanding legal bills. Let’s find out what Zimmerman had to say about that.)

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Can Biglaw solve this puzzle?

Most every law firm — including 100 percent of the Am Law 50 — maintains a Linkedin company page. Or rather, “maintains” such a presence on that most buttoned-up of all the social media platforms. A quick look at the LinkedIn pages of the Vault top 10 shows that only two firms bothered to change their page’s default setting to display “Services” rather than the inapt “Products” tab on the navigation menu. (Kudos to Kirkland and Debevoise!) This might seem like the most trivial of nits to pick, but aren’t these firms defined by fanatical attention to detail? Yet this nonchalance is emblematic of Biglaw’s unsettled relationship with social media.

We can safely assume that Biglaw’s old guard just wants social media to get off its lawn already, but what data we have strongly suggests that, as organizations, firms believe — or act as if they believe — that engagement with social media is worth doing (pace Brian Tannenbaum). When we examine the particulars of how they are managing this engagement, firms should hope that there is truth to Chesterton’s dictum: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly….”

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Law firms certainly have an interest in protecting their reputations from all threats foreign and domestic. By domestic, of course, we mean the damage that a lawyer can cause by posting dick picks on any of the multiple social media platforms out there. Social media snafus can reveal professional lapses or dangerous biases.

And if a lawyer embarrasses themselves on the Internet, there are people with high-profile, industry-leading publications that might just write about it.

But social media policing can also degenerate into paranoid intrusions into the private lives of lawyers. One firm has a social media policy that reads like the PATRIOT Act — at least to the extent it seems to provide the firm open-ended authority to govern the social media profiles of its lawyers….

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South Park metaphorically linked the 2004 election to a matchup between a turd sandwich and a giant douche. As bad as the Bush era had become, John Kerry came across as such a self-righteous tool it was hard to get swing voters psyched up to vote one way or the other. I think of this episode today as I approach the tale of two lawyers sniping at each other over Facebook about whether a woman deserves to have her parental rights terminated. It’s not that I think either is really wrong, as much as both of them exhibit the worst of their respective positions in their online feud.

So what did one entitled Biglaw lawyer say about a poor client, and what did a self-righteous public interest lawyer say in response? All bets final once you read past the jump….

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