There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.
There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.
So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?
Ed note: Stat of the Week is a new feature that pulls custom data points from ATL Research as well as noteworthy sources across the web.
Last month at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, the International Legal Technology Association (ILTA) held its annual conference. As would be expected, the event generated a tremendous volume of Twitter chatter, much of it focused on statistics. The LexisNexis Business of Law blog has compiled a collection of the most compelling, quirky, or frankly speculative #ILTA14 numbers (e.g., “Prediction: 10 years 40% of the Fortune 500 won’t exist.” – Shirley Crow). Read on for more highlights.
Our law firm does not have a Twitter account. But our consulting and patent monetization firm, Markman Advisors, does (@MarkmanAdvisors) — an active one, where we post about patent litigation-related events that are of interest to our followers. Twitter has become our number-one way of interacting with the investment community that is the target for our consulting and patent monetization services.
Yet our law firm still does not have a Twitter account — and I am not convinced it should. As a practicing litigator, I am reluctant to give out my opinions on legal issues through such a broad-reaching medium. Lawyers on Twitter either need to have a lot of guts, or follow the typical boring Biglaw marketing model. I am not interested too much in either approach.
Our engagement with Twitter is relatively recent, dating to the launch of our law firm and consulting practice. Prior to Twitter, our focus was on demonstrating our patent litigation bona fides via investor-focused articles on websites like Seeking Alpha and Harvest. The goal of that work was to demonstrate that Markman Advisors offered investors, inventors, and companies interested in patent situations a unique analytical approach, informed by our collective experience litigating big-ticket patent cases while at Biglaw firms. We were fortunate to build a following on those platforms, which led to meetings with the type of clients we were interested in representing. In the course of those discussions, we found out that for the investment community — traders, hedge funds, whomever — Twitter is a necessary and powerful communications tool.
Being lawyers, our first reaction was skepticism….
Earlier this year at the (shameless plug alert) Attorney@Blog Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Guy Alvarez and Joe Lamport, founders of Good2bSocial, a digital agency that helps law firms utilize social media and content marketing to improve their business.
Look, I will be the first to tell you how powerful a good content strategy can be for a business. I even left my cushy Biglaw salary to start a company in the content space. But #Biglaw? Even I was skeptical.
So I was shocked to hear of all the law firms who were being recognized at the conference for their work in social media. How exactly would a firm use Twitter or Facebook to drive business? I decided to invite Guy and Joe to participate in a conversation about the emerging role of social media in law firms….
Have you ever seriously considered the terror a baby calf must feel? Chained in darkness its whole short life before being led unceremoniously to its grisly demise. I haven’t, because veal is delicious. But if I were to consider the depressing life arc of my entree, it would still not be as tragic as this collection of messages from incoming law students walking through the gates of a law school that readers of this site — or frankly anyone willing to do a little research — know will leave a supermajority of them heavily indebted and jobless.
But these students don’t know that yet. Or at least they’re dutifully refusing to believe it. Behold the hopes and dreams of a generation of students, memorialized on Twitter….
(Please note the UPDATE at the bottom of this post.)
“Wait, was that a flash grenade?”
“Oh, now there’s a picture!”
“They arrested journalists… just for being in a McDonald’s?”
“Now the arrested reporters are back online!”
Last night, many of us fixated on our Twitter feeds to follow, in real time, every breaking development in Ferguson, Missouri. The hashtag acted as a latter day, crowdsourced ticker tape keeping those miles away from the town — clear to Gaza — abreast as the peaceful protests brought on a symbolically striking military-style occupation, complete with the use of gas and rubber bullets and the arrest of journalists for performing their constitutionally protected jobs.
That’s what Twitter did that was awesome. Unfortunately, last night also put on display everything awful about Twitter. Everything that people mistake it to be when they set up a handle and broadcast their message to the world in 140 character segments. Others have tackled what Ferguson means in the grand scheme of criminal law and what lawyers should do in response to Ferguson. But there are also lessons to be learned from “#Ferguson” — the cyber place that conveyed the events of Ferguson — and the opinions of casual observers — to the world.
Lessons that all technologically connected lawyers, and frankly everyone, can use….
In case you’re not already well aware, last night the legal profession stood witness to the biggest bar exam disaster in history. Bar exam takers nationwide were absolutely enraged — as they rightfully should have been — because ExamSoft’s servers were overrun by thousands of aspiring lawyers trying to upload their essays before their state’s deadline came and went.
Instead of going about their business and exhibiting “forbearance with the situation” as requested by the bane of their collective existence, bar takers flocked to Twitter to shake their virtual fists in anger in tweets directed at ExamSoft.
As you can imagine, there were some very entertaining tweets being sent out. If you love schadenfreude and other people’s pain brings you pleasure, you’ll love this…
* After losing before the Supreme Court, the University of Texas affirmative action admissions program looked to be in serious trouble. But the Fifth Circuit just ruled that the UT policy met the strict-scrutiny analysis mandated by the Court. The lesson for Abigail Fisher is once more, “How about you get better grades instead of whining?” Or at least “Get politically connected.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]
* Apple agrees to a conditional $450 million settlement with the NYAG’s office in the e-book suit. So you might get some money back from the 50 Shades of Grey purchase. [Reuters]
* The Manassas city police have decided not to engage in kiddie porn pursuant to a warrant. Good for them. [Washington Post]
* “Judges are not deities. They are humans.” Let’s not tell Lat, the shock might kill him. [Katz Justice]
* The hell? Parents arrested for letting their 9-year-old go to the park alone? Suffocating parenting is bad enough without the government expecting it of parents. [Slate]
* CPAs are suing the IRS because the regulation of tax preparers lacks Congressional approval. Because we need more folks off the street claiming to be tax preparers. [TaxProf Blog]
* Lawyer and former South Carolina GOP executive director Todd Kincannon is under investigation by the South Carolina Office of Disciplinary Counsel for basically being a dick on Twitter. As Ken White notes, the First Amendment is all about giving guys like this a forum. [Slate]
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