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Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?"  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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 Will the Apple Watch be a game-changer?

As the Apple Watch is about to hits stores, the question remains: will lawyers use the Apple Watch? Or are we already too overloaded with devices, gadgets and distractions? My prediction is that the legal profession will take to the Apple Watch like a fish takes to water.


The reason is simple. The Apple Watch won’t clutter our digital lives; it will streamline them. This wearable technology will serve as an unobtrusive, immediate link to the truly important information that we need to know while filtering out the digital noise for later when we have time to sift through it.

Here’s the killer feature that will sell lawyers on the Apple Watch: the subtle notifications. Because of the unobtrusive notifications, many lawyers will quickly begin to use Apple Watches as part of their day-to-day routine. The watch will serve as a digital filter, allowing through only the most important notifications from their iPhones. Lawyers will be able to program their watches to permit notifications about phone calls or messages from only the most important people in their lives: their assistants, their work colleagues, their spouses, or a time sensitive call from a specific person.
Currently, with iPhones, it’s pretty much all or nothing. You either receive notifications or you don’t. So if you’re in court or in a meeting and are expecting a phone call, you’re forced to leave your phone on the table lest you miss the call. When you do this, you send the message that you’re not paying attention. Every buzz causes you to look toward your phone, creating a distraction and breaking the flow of conversation.

With the Apple Watch, you’ll be able to set notifications to vibrate and only allow specific calls through from your phone. That way, the watch will only vibrate when you get that call and you’ll be able to sense the vibration without even having to glance at your watch. And then, when there’s a break in the proceedings or the meeting, you can step out of the room and return the call.
Women attorneys will appreciate this feature even more than their male counterparts. Unlike most men, professional women don’t carry their iPhones in their pant pockets or in the inside pocket of their suit jackets. The pockets are simply too small. Instead, we place our phones in our purses or in our briefcases. This means we don’t feel the phones when they vibrate and oftentimes can’t even hear them when they ring. So in order to avoid the appearance of being rude, we tend to miss important calls altogether.

The Apple Watch offers the perfect solution to this dilemma. It will provide women lawyers with the ability to receive important notifications right on their wrist, even if their iPhone is tucked away and out of sight. So while it seems like such a simple fix, it’s an important one and one that will truly make a difference in the lives of women lawyers.

Of course, there will be many other uses for the Apple Watch, both for lawyers and the public as a whole. Importantly, the Apple Watch is in its infancy and its features will evolve over time, defined in part by the ways that we choose to use it. But I predict that it’s the filtered, silent notifications that will be the killer feature that makes it so appealing right out of the starting block. From there, who knows where it will take us? I, for one, am looking forward to finding out.

 

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


North Carolina weighs in on judges and social media

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "North Carolina weighs in on judges and social media."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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North Carolina weighs in on judges and social media

 

Judges using social media: It’s an issue that’s been gaining more attention as social media permeates all aspects of our lives. In the majority of jurisdictions the ethics committees have concluded that it is generally permissible for judges to connect online with attorneys appearing before them, as long as the judges are careful to avoid the appearance of impropriety, avoid ex parte communications, and otherwise ensure compliance with applicable ethical rules, (see, 2009 Advisory Opinion 08-176 of the New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics, the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline Opinion 2010-7, and the 2010 Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Judiciary Opinion JE-119, American Bar Association Formal Opinion 462).

A handful of jurisdictions have come down on the other side of this issue, however, see, for example, California Judicial Ethics Committee Opinion Number 66 (judges may “friend” attorneys, but must “unfriend” those who appear before them and after doing so, must notify all parties of the “unfriending”); Florida Supreme Court Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinion 2009-20 (judges may join and participate on Facebook, but becoming “friends” with attorneys who may appear before them is impermissible); and Pierre Domville v. State of Florida, No. 4D12-556 (required judge, who was Facebook “friends” with the prosecutor in a case pending before the judge, to recuse himself.)

In January, the North Carolina State Bar Association joined the majority of jurisdictions on this issue when it handed down 2014 Formal Ethics Opinion 8. At issue in this case was whether lawyers and judges with LinkedIn profiles could connect with each other and then issue endorsements and/or recommendations on each other’s profile page.

At the outset, the committee determined that lawyers and judges can connect with each other on LinkedIn, noting that social media interactions are no different than offline interactions: “Interactions with judges using social media are evaluated in the same manner as personal interactions with a judge, such as an invitation to dinner. In certain scenarios, a lawyer may accept a judge’s dinner invitation. Similarly, in certain scenarios, a lawyer may accept a LinkedIn invitation to connect from a judge. However, if a lawyer represents clients in proceedings before a judge, the lawyer is subject to the following duties: to avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; to not state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official; and to avoid ex parte communications with a judge regarding a legal matter or issue the judge is considering. See Rule 3.5 and Rule 8.4. These duties may require the lawyer to decline a judge’s invitation to connect on LinkedIn.”

The committee then addressed the issue of endorsements and recommendations and concluded that while lawyers may endorse or recommend judges, judges may not do that same for lawyers: “Displaying an endorsement or recommendation from a judge on a lawyer’s profile page would create the appearance of judicial partiality and the lawyer must decline, see Rule 8.4(e).” Furthermore, according to the committee, any endorsements or recommendations made by the judge prior to becoming a judge must be removed from an attorney’s LinkedIn profile as long as the attorney “knows, or reasonably should know, that Lawyer B has become a judge.”

The committee also opined on whether lawyers may accept recommendations or endorsements from colleagues who are not judges, explaining that it was permissible to do so as long as “the content of the endorsement or recommendation is truthful and not misleading.”

Finally, the committee extended its holding to “any social media application that allows public display of connections, endorsements, or recommendations between lawyers and judges.”
All in all, this was a solid decision. The committee made sound comparisons to offline interactions resulting in a well-reasoned decision that provides lawyers and judges with practical guidance for their online interactions.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


New York Ethics Opinion on Lawyers and LinkedIn

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "New York Ethics Opinion on Lawyers and LinkedIn."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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New York Ethics Opinion on Lawyers and LinkedIn   

Earlier this month, the New York County Lawyers Association weighed in on the ethical obligations of lawyers who maintain LinkedIn profiles in Formal Opinion 748. This is an important opinion since LinkedIn is the most popular social network used by lawyers. In the past there has been confusion as to which features pose ethics issues, especially as the platform has evolved over time. This much-needed, in depth opinion helps to establish some additional guidelines for New York lawyers to follow when it comes to LinkedIn.


The first issue the Ethics Committee considered was which aspects of a lawyer’s profile on LinkedIn did not trigger the attorney advertising disclaimer requirements set forth in the New York Rules of Professional Conduct Rule 7.1. The Committee concluded that only basic information about an attorney’s background may be included in a LinkedIn profile without the need for such a disclaimer: “Attorneys may maintain profiles on LinkedIn, containing information such as education, work history, areas of practice, skills, and recommendations written by other
LinkedIn users. A LinkedIn profile that contains only one’s education and current and past employment does not constitute Attorney Advertising.”

However, should attorneys choose to include additional information in their profiles, then an attorney advertising disclaimer would be required. The Committee explained that “a LinkedIn profile that includes subjective statements regarding an attorney’s skills, areas of practice, endorsements, or testimonials from clients or colleagues is likely to be considered advertising…(and if) an attorney includes additional information in his or her profile, such as a description of areas of practice or certain skills or endorsements, the profile may be considered Attorney Advertising and should contain the disclaimers set forth in Rule 7.1.”

Next, the Committee described some of the situations where a disclaimer would be required and provided examples of appropriate disclaimers: “If an attorney’s LinkedIn profile includes a detailed description of practice areas and types of work done in prior employment, the user should include the words ‘Attorney Advertising’ on the lawyer’s LinkedIn profile. See RPC 7.1(f). If an attorney also includes (1) statements that are reasonably likely to create an expectation about results the lawyer can achieve; (2) statements that compare the lawyer’s services with the
services of other lawyers; (3) testimonials or endorsements of clients; or (4) statements describing or characterizing the quality of the lawyer’s or law firm’s services, the attorney should also include the disclaimer ‘Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.’”

Finally, the Committee addressed attorneys’ ethical obligations in regard to accurate testimonials and endorsements. The Committee concluded that because LinkedIn gives its users control over their profiles, lawyers have a continuing obligation to periodically review their LinkedIn Profiles. As part of the review process lawyers must vet the recommendations included in their profile to ensure that they are in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct: “Attorneys must ensure that all information in their LinkedIn profiles, including endorsements and recommendations written by other LinkedIn users, is truthful and not misleading. If an attorney believes an endorsement or recommendation is not accurate,the attorney should exclude it from his or her profile. New York lawyers should periodically monitor and review the content of their LinkedIn profiles for accuracy.”

Overall this was a helpful opinion and provides New York lawyers with practical guidelines. Based on this decision, lawyers would be wise to err on the side of caution and carefully review their LinkedIn profiles to ensure compliance with this decision. Another important step lawyers should take is to change their LinkedIn notification settings so that they receive emails from LinkedIn advising them of new endorsements and recommendations so that each one can be reviewed for compliance prior to appearing on their LinkedIn profile.

Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at niki@mycase.com.


Join Me For Drinks In Boston on 4/24

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.20.05 AMI'll be in Boston on April 24th and if you're a fellow legal professional*, I hope you can join me for free drinks compliments of MyCase at the Park Plaza Hotel Lobby Lounge Bar from 5-7 pm.

I've already gotten a few Boston lawyer friends to agree to come, including Bob Ambrogi, Alan Klevan, and Patricia Joyce. Hope you can make it, too!

You can RSVP here. See you there! 

*Please note this event is restricted to legal professionals.