Social Networking Websites

In a follow-up to Kash’s post on Monday regarding the newly formed Big Law Society, I volunteered to check out their first happy hour Tuesday night at the BlackFinn American Saloon in D.C. At first I thought it would be amusing to see the type of people who would attend such a gathering. But by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, I was tired and doubted whether I should go at all.

Moreover, I had reason to be suspicious, considering what the group posted about itself on its About page:

Big Law Society organizes social networking events for a very select group of legal professionals, with the aim of creating a community of talented, dynamic individuals. Memberships and invites to the Big Law Society events are limited to individuals with a unique professional background; however, qualified members are welcome to bring guests.

Seriously, I almost felt like I was crashing a middle school party for the “popular” kids, except with less interesting people…. 

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Ed. note: Adrian Dayton is a lawyer and writer who advises law firms about business development through social media.. He will be writing a series of guest posts for Above the Law about social media.

Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys appearing inept?

– Frank Herbert, Dune

“Don’t turn the TV off!”

My Dad insisted he was recording the football game.

“Well, can I at least change the channel?”

“No.”

What my father didn’t understand is that the VCR could record his game, even if the TV was displaying a different show. For those who don’t remember the old invention called the VCR, it could record one show while you watched another on the TV. It could even record the show while the TV was not on. That completely blew my father’s mind, so just to “be safe” he left the TV on and kept it on the channel he was recording.

Technology and social media can be scary to the ruling class, and we even see that among the legal blogosphere. Take one of my favorite law bloggers, Scott Greenfield….

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“Believe me, kiddos, this is bad news for all of us.”

As many websites and blogs (including ATL) mentioned last week, The New York Times published an article by Heather Timmons entitled “Outsourcing to India Draws Western Lawyers.” The quote above was from the blog Shilling Me Softly giving its take on the article. As you can probably discern from The Times headline, the piece was very favorable toward legal outsourcing taking place overseas…

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Earlier this year, David Kernell, 22, was found guilty of hacking into Sarah Palin’s Yahoo! account and posting some of her emails on the Internetz. The Palins were pleased by his conviction.

One of the places where Palin’s correspondence wound up was the (enter-at-your-own-risk) message forum 4chan.org. During the course of the April felony trial, 4chan founder Christopher “Moot” Poole was called to testify. The Smoking Gun dug up and posted the transcript from the testimony yesterday. Federal prosecutor Mark Krotoski asked Poole to explain how 4chan operates and how it keeps track of its users. He also asked him to explain some “Internet speak.”

The testimony is a handy guide for those of you who get confused by the slang used in online comments sections. How does one define a “lurker,” “troll,” or a “b-tard”?

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Last week, Kash mentioned social media guru and attorney Adrian Dayton in a post entitled “Social Media for Legal Types.” As a follow up, I thought I would reach out to Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black, authors of the recently published book, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier. I first mentioned these two in March during the ABA Techshow.

The words “The Next Frontier” were added to signal that social media for attorneys is going into its next phase. To Elefant and Black, lawyers can no longer ignore the impact of social media on the law, but rather must embrace it fully. Lawyers will have to deal with this new form of communication in order to be collaborative with one another and responsive to their clients.

So what does this have to do with Biglaw? Social media is more for small firms and solos who need to use these tools to market themselves over the internet, right?

Actually, Elefant and Black believe social media can have a huge impact on Biglaw, especially in regard to its women lawyers. And law professors should read on too — it’s possible that advances in social media will render law review articles irrelevant…

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The internet is on fire today. The purported contract between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and random New York resident Paul Ceglia has hit the worldwide web. We’ve written about Ceglia’s claims to 84% of Facebook before. But now that people have actually seen the document, everybody wants to talk about it.

I even ended up on Fox Business News, sharing my analysis of the Facebook contract.

As most lawyers know, just because you have a signed contract doesn’t necessarily mean you have anything. What was the bargain? Was there a meeting of the minds? Contracts aren’t always clear about what the parties are actually agreeing to.

This one, allegedly signed by Zuckerberg when he was a college sophomore, has lots of room for interpretation…

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After CNN editor Octavia Nasr got the boot for an indiscreet tweet, Fast Company was inspired to do a series of stories on companies’ social media policies: “guidelines about how its employees (and freelancers and interns) should represent themselves on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media destinations.”

In the most recent piece in the series, Fast Company looked at Harvard Law’s guidelines for its bloggers. It approved of Harvard’s straightforward approach:

Think this one is going to be dense and chock-full of legalese? Though it’s not exactly written in plain English, the one page document titled “Terms of Use” is a straightforward take on how to blog under Harvard’s domain. Not surprisingly, the first point deals with copyrights, but goes on to include:

“As a general matter, you may post content freely to your blog and to those of others, so long as the content is not illegal, obscene, defamatory, threatening, infringing of intellectual property rights, invasive of privacy or otherwise injurious or objectionable.

Well, that takes all the fun out of it, doesn’t it?

You may not use the Harvard name to endorse or promote any product, opinion, cause or political candidate. Representation of your personal opinions as institutionally endorsed by Harvard University or any of its Schools or organizations is strictly prohibited.”

So no endorsement of Elena Kagan allowed over there?

There’s a burgeoning awareness of social media in the law firm world. When we were in Chicago for an in-house counsel conference, we met a lawyer who had chucked the practice of law to advise law firms on how to use social media. We asked him about guidelines for law firms and lawyers when it comes to Facebooking, blogging, and celebrity endorsements via Twitter…

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The meteoric rise of Facebook has tended to inspire lawsuits by those who claim to have collaborated with Mark Zuckerberg in the site’s creation. The latest to make a claim on the 500-million-member site is a wood chipper man in New York. We don’t understand how Paul D. Ceglia went from writing code to producing wood pellets, but so be it.

In his lawsuit (via Gawker), he claims to have made a contract with Zuckerberg in 2003 to help design “The Face Book” for $1,000 plus 50% of the site’s revenue, with an added 1% per day until the site was launched. This sounds like the stupidest (and most typo-ridden) contract ever — Zuckerberg went to Harvard and this guy chops wood, so we’re skeptical (though we do know the Ivy League doesn’t teach common sense).

The Guardian reports that Facebook has “dismissed the case as ‘frivolous’ and ‘outlandish’, said it will fight it vigorously and pointed out that a lawsuit over a contract broken in 2003 is ‘almost certainly barred’ by the statute of limitation.”

The judge in Allegheny County Supreme Court is taking the claim very seriously though. Judge Thomas Brown has frozen Facebook’s assets while the case is pending…

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Upon graduation, some degrees grant graduates more than a few extra letters at the end of their name. Some degrees are transformative. An MD turns an anal, highlighter-happy med student into a “doctor.” A PhD does the same thing for disheveled grad students. A JD makes you an “esquire.” (Other degrees are not transformative: MBA and masters grads get nothing but debt.)

While the MDs and, to a lesser extent, PhDs get to be called Dr. on a regular basis, no one ever uses “Esquire” aloud. It’s a silent, written title, and that bothers some lawyers, who want an honorific that people actually use in conversation. Lawyers do have Juris Doctorates, after all.

If you’re among those who feel entitled to a more regularly used title, there’s a Facebook group for you:

The movement only has 113 fans as of this writing, but there is a history to this movement. In 2006, the ABA Journal looked into the matter, and determined that the ethics rules around calling yourself “Dr. Ima Lawyer, Esquire” are unclear…

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WARNING! This page informs on real world of crime and punishment. “If u can’t stand the TWEET, get out of the TWITCHEN” Harry Truman #utpol

– Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who set off a heated debate about the appropriateness of tweeting about Utah’s firing squad execution last week.

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