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2015 Social Media Ethics Guidelines released

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "2015 Social Media Ethics Guidelines released ."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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2015 Social Media Ethics Guidelines released 

My good friend Scott Malouf, a Rochester attorney who also aids other lawyers in using social media as evidence, recently advised me that the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association had just released its 2015 Social Media Ethics Guidelines.

The 2015 edition updates the inaugural guidelines, which were released March 2014, and includes two new sections on Attorney Competence and Using Social Media to Communicate with a Judicial Officer. Additionally, new subsections have been added which address:

1) Lawyer’s Responsibility to Monitor or Remove Social Media Content by Others on a Lawyer’s Social Media Page; 2) Attorney Endorsements; 3) Retention of Social Media Communications with Clients; and 4) Maintaining Client Confidences and Confidential Information.
This comprehensive set of guidelines was drafted by a very knowledgeable group of lawyers, some of whom I know personally. It offers insightful and practical advice regarding the issues presented when lawyers interact online.

That being said, I’ve consistently written in past articles that I don’t believe that social media should be treated any differently than any other type of communication since online conduct is simply an extension of offline conduct. Given my position on this, I don’t necessarily agree that a separate set of guidelines specifically addressing social media is necessary.

But, if there is going to be a set of guidelines adopted by the NYSBA in the near future, this comprehensive document is certainly the one to consider adopting. It provides an extensive overview of New York ethics decisions on a vast assortment of social media-related issues, including attorney advertising and solicitation, mining social media for evidence, and researching jurors using social media.

For the most part, I agree with the advice provided. There are, however, two conclusions/recommendations with which I take issue. In this article I’ll address the first and will address the second next week.

First, there’s the newly added Guideline 2D, which addresses the responsibility of lawyers to monitor and remove problematic attorney endorsement found on social media. In part, this section provides: “A lawyer must ensure the accuracy of third-party legal endorsements, recommendations or online reviews posted to the lawyer’s social media profile. To that end, a lawyer must periodically monitor and review such posts for accuracy and must correct misleading or incorrect information posted by clients or other third-parties.”

And in footnote 25, the following directive is added: “Lawyers should also be cognizant of such websites as Yelp, Google and Avvo, where third parties may post public comments about lawyers.”
In my opinion, this section imposes a nearly impossible burden on lawyers to be aware of and to monitor social media sites and online profiles which they may not have had a part in creating, and over which they may not have any control. Not only are lawyers purportedly responsible for monitoring the content of the profiles they and sites they created, but according to this section they also must be cognizant of other sites where profiles have been created on their behalf and must monitor not only their profiles, but also comments made elsewhere on those sites that relate to the attorney’s services.

The time required to monitor this information and regularly conduct searches on these sites will be substantial. And even more time will be required to stay abreast of the vast numbers of online attorney directories and business review sites, which number in the thousands, with new ones popping up every day.

I would argue that this particular section places an undue burden on lawyers, most of whom are busy trying to keep their heads above water and their law practices out of the red in the midst today’s competitive legal landscape. I believe they should only be responsible for monitoring content on profiles that they’ve claimed, not those over which they arguably might have control should they choose to take the step of claiming their profiles.

Another recommendation in the guidelines that I take issue with relates to mining social media for evidence, so tune in next week for more on that.

And, in closing, I would like to emphasize that although I’m providing constructive criticism about a few aspects of the guidelines, the document as a whole is an impressive piece of work and provides valuable insight and guidance for New York lawyers on how to ethically use social media in their practices.

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.


My latest iPhone app discoveries

Stacked3This week's Daily Record column is entitled "My latest iPhone app discoveries."  My past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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My latest iPhone app discoveries

 

I readily admit it: I’m a tech geek. And one of my favorite things to do is to discover and try out new iPhone apps. Not all of them are keepers, but I often find a few worth holding onto.

It’s been a while since I shared my favorite apps, so I figured it was high time I wrote about some of my latest discoveries. So, without further ado, here are a few of my new favorite and often-used iPhone apps.

First, if you travel often, make sure to download FlightBoard. This free app provides instant access to all flights and their assigned gates at any given airport. So as you are waiting to deplane, you can access your connecting flight’s gate information. Then open the GateGuru app to view a map of the airport, so you can locate your next flight’s gate and any restaurants you’ll encounter as you make your way to your next flight.

Another travel app I’ve mentioned in the past that I can’t live without is TripIt. I use this app to store all of my travel itineraries in one place. Another benefit is that the app also automatically adds my flight and hotel information to my calendar.

Next, my favorite news app. For a while now I’ve been searching for a news app that provides quick access to the headlines I want to see and recently discovered SmartNews. This is a free app that offers news stories from a variety of sources and allows you to tailor the topics and sources that appear in your news feeds. It’s a very good news app and I highly recommend it.

Next up, two media apps. First, there’s Amazon Music. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, then you have to download this free app, which provides you free access to the Amazon music library as part of your Prime membership. You can play music by certain artists or albums or access Prime Music Custom stations or Playlists. You can also create your own playlists using content from the Amazon music library.

Another media app that I really like is Google Photos. This app was just released and automatically backs up and provides free online storage for all photos taken using your iPhone and other devices. The photos are automatically organized by people and location and you can search the photos by typing in the subject of the photo you’re seeking. So for example you can enter “dog” to locate all photos taken of dogs.

Two contact management apps I use often are CircleBack and Brewster. CircleBack is a free app that collects all of your contacts and then searches through its data in the cloud to provide you with the most current information for your contacts. The data is obtained from other users address books, which are then synced in the cloud with current records and anonymized. You receive notifications whenever one of your contact’s information includes updates, which you can then download to your iPhone. Of course, the tradeoff to be aware of is that you’re providing your contacts’ information to this service in exchange for the benefit of receiving updated information about your contacts.

Another free contact management app is Brewster. This free app syncs with your contacts on your iPhone and also collects all of your social media contacts into a fully searchable database, so you can easily search for contacts living in a certain area. Brewster also automatically categorizes your contacts and allows you to create custom categories as well. So, for example, categories automatically created by that app that appear on my iPhone include “law practice,” companies for which I’ve worked, and schools that I’ve attended. This is a great app that makes it even easier than ever to stay on top of your ever-growing list of contacts.

So those are a few of my favorite apps. Download a few of them and give them a try. Hopefully you’ll find a few of them to be as useful as I do!

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.