Social Networking Websites

I am on record as an optimist when it comes to the internet. The free flow of information on the web, including but not limited to websites like Above the Law, helps people make better decisions about their lives and careers (and also entertains, a value that shouldn’t be ignored).

At the same time, as we’ve discussed before, the web has its dark side….

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Remember when all you had to worry about was your daughter posting naked selfies of herself on Facebook? Now, things are worse.

In what has to be a new low for the Millennial generation, a daughter’s Facebook boasting has cost her family $80,000, and likely ruined the European vacation she was bragging about….

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‘Congratulations. You’re still in the running towards becoming America’s next top law review.’

Replace the gorgeous, leggy models with bespectacled, Bluebook-wielding law students. Replace the photo shoots with cite checks. Replace Tyra Banks with a law librarian.

Voilà! You’ve replaced America’s Next Top Model with something far more fabulous: America’s Next Top Law Review.

And yes, there is a new top law review. Harvard Law Review, which has dominated the leading set of rankings for the past seven years, has been dethroned. To quote Dani from Cycle 6 of ANTM, “Shut yo mouth and say it ain’t true!”

Oh, but it is true. They’re all beautiful — or at least impeccably Bluebooked — but only one girl has what it takes. Who is the nation’s new #1 law journal?

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It’s got to be annoying for judges when lawmakers write laws that are designed to be so freaking vague that courts will be forced to fix them once the inevitable lawsuits come around.

Florida lawmakers are trying to make your Facebook account safe from your boss who wants to get his or her Orwellian hands all up in your personal business. The legislation prohibits employers from demanding your social media passwords as a condition of employment.

BUT… the business lobby has been able to force an amendment that still allows employers to demand your passwords if your account is used for a “business purpose.” What’s a “business purpose”? Nobody knows. It’s probably going to be whatever your boss says a “business purpose” is. Then, they’ll fire you, you’ll sue, and a judge will have to figure it all out, because the legislature couldn’t get its act together….

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Is the internet good or evil? Well, neither — the internet, just like the information you find on it, is really what you make of it. Some people use information for good purposes, and some use it for bad.

Here at Above the Law, we tend to see the internet as a force for good. We use our bandwidth on the web to entertain and to educate. Our view is that, in general, more information is good. With more information, people can make better choices about their lives and careers. Should I go to law school? If so, which law school? And what about law firms? Which firms are the best places to work?

But you can use the internet for anything, really. For some folks, to quote the popular song from the musical Avenue Q, The Internet Is For Porn — and so much more, from the shady to the downright illegal….

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Social media is no longer new. This month, Facebook turns ten, joining LinkedIn, which hit the decade mark back in May. Lawyers have been blogging even longer than that, with the earliest lawyer blogs launched fifteen years ago. Even the book on Social Media for Lawyers that I co-authored with Nicole Black has been out for nearly four years.

Yet after all this time, social media still has limited traction in the legal profession, with few firms using social media for its “best and highest use”: engaging and interacting with colleagues and clients. Instead, large firms treat social media as another marketing channel to disseminate firm news and press releases, according to a recent ATL study, while solos and smalls treat social media as a poor man’s search-engine optimizer.  It’s no wonder that many practicing lawyers deride social media generally as a waste of time and counsel their colleagues to focus on traditional in-person networking, like meeting colleagues for lunch or getting involved in bar associations, to generate visibility and referrals.

Still, I wouldn’t give up on social media yet. The fact that so few lawyers understand how to use social media correctly makes it a powerful tool for solo and small firm lawyers. Here are three ways to use social media to get the most out of traditional, in-person networking, and to create new opportunities for yourself:

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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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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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The past year or so has been an epic period for snarky responses to cease and desist letters. We’ve seen hilariously irreverent responses to C&D letters telling off the likes of Starbucks, the American Bankers Association, and the Township of West Orange.

And now Hollywood celebrities are throwing themselves into the mix. Which “seriously out of control” young actor just got saucy over Twitter in response to a lawyer’s letter?

Here’s a hint: Is this kid Lawless?

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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]

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