Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn’

Kelly Lynn Anders, “Ethical Exits: When Lawyers and Judges Must Sever Ties on Social Media”

March 13, 2013

Kelly Lynn Anders has published “Ethical Exits: When Lawyers and Judges Must Sever Ties on Social Media”, Charleston Law Review, Vol. 7, No. 2, Winter 2012-2013.  The abstract reads:

This article addresses the very recent trend of requiring lawyers and judges to sever ties on social media, the professional implications of doing so, relevant rules governing judicial and attorney conduct, and a discussion of “best practices” for lawyers and judges to follow when social media connections must be broken. Recent opinions from states that have issued social media directives in this area will also be discussed, along with a brief overview of three of the most commonly used social media sites at the time of the publication of this article – Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Through this discussion and analysis, one theme will continue to resurface – the increasingly pressing need for guidance and clarity in the MRPC and MRJC so that expectations involving social media connections will be clear, uniform, and much easier to manage for lawyers, judges, and anyone with whom they may communicate, either professionally or personally. Such clear-cut guidance would also decrease the need for severing ties that should not have been formed in the first place, thereby also serving to contribute to the preservation of solid and favorable reputations of all jurists and counselors in an increasingly virtual world.

Download a pdf copy of the article via SSRN here.

Jacobson and Tufts on “To Post or Not to Post: Employee Rights and Social Media”

August 18, 2011

Willow Jacobson (University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill) and Shannon Tufts have published “To Post or Not to Post: Employee Rights and Social Media”, APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper. The abstract reads:

In line with the theme of this year’s APSA conference, this paper examines issues of public employee rights as they relate to social media policies. This paper employs an interdisciplinary approach to examine the issue of employee rights in relationship to social media actions both on and off the job. The proliferation of the use and forms of social media in the last five years has been extensive. Significant efforts are being made to capture the power of this medium as a resource for government while at the same time governments are struggling to create appropriate, legal, and meaningful policies related to employee usage and behavior. Stories abound of public employees’ misuse of social media both at and away from work. Misconduct has led to not just disciplinary action but substantial media attention. Issues of First and Fourth Amendment rights, human resource policies, and technology policies are all critical to this topic.

This paper reviews social media policies for public employees with attention to the employees’ rights. Content analysis of state government policies provide an overview of the current state of practice and highlight issues of public employee rights. The paper includes a discussion of key issues of employee rights, recommendations for practice, and future research needs.

The paper may be downloaded from SSRN here.

Twitter, A Cactus Named Erik, and Social Media Policy

August 11, 2011
Saguaro cactus on hillside at Saguaro National...

Image via Wikipedia

I stumbled upon an interesting document prepared on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada entitled “Online Activity/Social Media Policy” dated September 2010 [the "LSUC Social Media Policy"]. It appears to be a template for law firms with associates and staff that need guidance on accepted or best practices for online activity. Here’s the .pdf link.

I encourage Ontario lawyers, law clerks, and legal staff to read this document carefully and decide how and when they wish to participate online on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.

The LSUC Social Media Policy provides examples as to when these guidelines may or may not apply:

The following are some examples when these guidelines might apply.

  • Beth, a partner at a firm, participates in an e-mail discussion list hosted by a business professional roundtable, where she can send and receive messages on a wide variety of business topics and interact with current and potential clients.
  • Arthur, an associate at a firm, maintains a personal blog that he started as a law student. He has written about law school, classes, his articling experience, and now occasionally comments on his work.
  • Greg, a paralegal, regularly reads the Empowered Paralegal blog and occasionally posts comments on the site.
  • Susan, a litigation support specialist, has a Twitter account that she uses to update her friends and colleagues on her whereabouts, particularly if she’s working long hours on a case.

The following are some examples where these guidelines do not apply.

  • Mark, Nadine, and Lisa have “friended” each other on Facebook and discuss movies and occasionally collaborate in a game of Firmtown. Their profiles identify [Firm name] as their employer but there is no other mention of work.
  • Erik has a Twitter account where he provides to his followers updates on the status of his cactus throughout the day.

The last example is by far my favorite:

“Erik has a Twitter account where he provides to his followers updates on the status of his cactus throughout the day”.

I  have deliberated throughout the day and have decided to buy a cactus. I shall call him “Erik”.

I have also given serious consideration to rebranding, as suggested by my blawging colleague and Twitter friend (I loathe the phrase “tweep”), George Wallace (Twitter: @foolintheforest) who tweeted/twitted/twittered this today:

However, as every rose has its thorn, so too, every cactus has its…um, spines.

While tweeting about one’s cactus all day may be sufficient to avoid breach of the LSUC Social Media Guidelines, it does seem rather mundane and will not increase your Klout score or Peer Index dramatically. I fear that it will likely end up getting you unfollowed or blocked en masse. It also will not guarantee you safety or security, either online or offline.  For example, one could suffer cactus spine injuries or develop cactus dermatitis. Then there’s the risk of criminal prosecution in Arizona if you vandalize (cactus plugging), remove or traffic in Arizona’s state flower, the Saguaro or giant cactus over four feet tall.

The worst, however, is death by cactus:

David Grundman and his roommate James Joseph Suchcochi packed their guns and took off for the desert near Lake Pleasant back in 1982. Snopes.com tells us Grundman had great success shooting up a small saguaro, which quickly thumped down dead.

So he went for a bigger one. A 26-foot saguaro that was estimated at 100 years old.

The cactus was apparently not amused by being shot up – and one of its 4-foot arms tumbled down, crushing and killing Grundman.

What a way to make history.

While Snopes also mentions tales of animal revenge, the site says Grundman’s is the only documented case of a plant getting back at a human.”

By all means, tweet only about cactuses (or cacti), but remember the words of the conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer:

In the middle ages, people took potions for their ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today’s shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead.

A Brand New You

August 1, 2011

Cassio: Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost my reputation. I have lost the immortal part of myself, and what remains is bestial. My reputation, Iago, my reputation!

Iago: As I am an honest man, I thought you had received some bodily wound; there is more offence in that than in reputation. Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving: you have lost no reputation at all, unless you repute yourself such a loser.

-Shakespeare, Othello, the Moor of Venice, Act II. Scene III, 242-249.

Brian Tannebaum, in his post at My Law License, “No Adrian Dayton, Gaming Google To Create A Reputation Is Not What Lawyers Should Do identifies a “disturbing trend” which will surely catch on among the reputation management crowd:

“A while back, I was trying to establish whether another lawyer was actually practicing law and using the technology they were writing about daily and encouraging other lawyers to use. Questions were raised, and internet chatter began to revolve about the person’s true background. As a result, this person wrote a self-promotional piece about who they “really are.” I found this sad, as manufacturing a reputation is weak and small. Reputations are established by what people say and think about you, not what you say and think of yourself (unless you’re a marketing hack lawyer who has created their own fake reputation to which no one but the naive can attest.)

This post I describe was the inspiration for Adrian Dayton’s latest puff piece: “Who is Adrian Dayton?”. Dayton obviously feels that his view of his background, including his “work” on the 450 million dollar merger, needs to be told, again, and would appreciate if you would write your own self-promotional piece and link to his. By linking to his, you help him with his goal, to have a better Google page. Since the only person telling the story of Adrian Dayton is me, he’s got to tell his own.

So write about yourself, tell us who you really are, and help Adrian Dayton’s Google Analytics.”

This is what we’ve come to in our profession. Those with law degrees who self-admittedly “have no business practicing law,” and are trying to earn a buck from practicing lawyers by playing the “I’m one of you” card, are out there manufacturing their reputations, and asking for your help.

Reputations are earned though.

Have you earned yours, or have you created it? [emphasis added]

Now, most readers will likely figure out that Brian Tannebaum is obliquely referring to Nicole Black, who wrote a post at her Sui Generis blog back on October 25th, 2009 entitled ” Who are you, Nicole Black (aka @nikiblack), and what do you do?. 

What I can’t seem to figure out is what caused Adrian Dayton so much consternation about his online reputation that he felt compelled inspired to dig up a post nearly 2 years old written by his cohort, Nicole Black?

Warren Buffett’s quote: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” now seems quaint in the age of Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, and the flavour of the week, Google+.

Reputation management consultants will tell  you how important it is to monitor, protect and optimize your reputation. However, their advice is fabricated and factitious. Why? Because their focus is exclusively on what other people say about you online, not offline.

Ask yourself this question: Do I care what other people I do not even know and who I’ve never met in person think or say about me?

If the answer is yes, then you really need to re-evaluate your priorities and self-identity.

No, Adrianos Fachetti was wrong. You are not what Google says you are.

Rather than fretting over what some anonymous troll or keyboard jockey says about you, or, heaven forfend, worrying about another blawger disagreeing with you, try to gain some perspective and insight on why it matters. Fuming over negative references which you perceive as spoiling your meticulously manufactured online persona is likely to be of concern only to one person: You. But it’s not always about You. Most people don’t even know you or care if you exist. Really. It’s true. The Internet Age of Instant Celebrity is fleeting. One week someone links to your post or you’re quoted by the media, the next week you’re last week’s news.

Why not get off the grid once in a while? Call up a client just to ask how they are doing.  Invite a colleague, or better yet, call up a detested opponent out for lunch to discuss politics or how poorly their favorite sports team is performing. Write a love letter to your significant other. Write a love letter to yourself, then crumple up the piece of paper and go back to what you were doing before.

If you must do something law-related, why not write a blog post about an area of law that you are vaguely interested in, but will never practice or that will never bring you a single client. You don’t have to write an informative or authoritative post for the fear of creating a lawyer-client relationship or getting sued. Just write. You do have a disclaimer on your blog, don’t you? So what if you get sued. How can you relate to your clients if you haven’t at least walked a mile in their moccasins?

Over at An Associate’s Mind, Keith Lee in his post, “Facebook You v. Real You or Why Personal Branding is Stupid” says what needs to be said:

Shut up about your “personal brand.” Your brand is only the first step; the foot in the door. That’s it. This sudden obsession with developing a personal brand is insane. No one cares about your brand. Let me say that again: No one gives a damn about your brand. Marketers and social media/branding gurus may say otherwise, but they are merely trying to justify their own existence.

You know what matters for lawyers – anyone really? Their reputation.

Your brand is what you say about yourself, but your reputation is what others say about you.

There is no way to self-create a reputation – or at least no way to buy a reputation that lasts. Reputation is developed through hard work, consistency, reliability, and integrity.

In the end, branding is for livestock, not for real lawyers.

UPDATED: A Brave New World

June 27, 2011
1052(Brave New World)

Image by danielweiresq via Flickr

O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world! That has such people in it!
Miranda’s speech in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Act V, Scene I

“There’s always soma to calm your anger, to reconcile you to your enemies, to make you patient and long-suffering. In the past you could only accomplish these things by making a great effort and after years of hard moral training. Now, you swallow two or three half-gramme tablets, and there you are. Anybody can be virtuous now. You can carry at least half your morality about in a bottle. Christianity without tears-that’s what soma is.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 17

In  “Got Twitter? What’s Your Influence Score“, Stephanie Rosenbloom of the  New York Times paints a dismal future when she writes,

IMAGINE a world in which we are assigned a number that indicates how influential we are. This number would help determine whether you receive a job, a hotel-room upgrade or free samples at the supermarket. If your influence score is low, you don’t get the promotion, the suite or the complimentary cookies.

This is not science fiction.

It’s happening to millions of social network users. If you have a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, you are already being judged – or will be soon. Companies with names like Klout, PeerIndex and Twitter Grader are in the process of scoring millions, eventually billions, of people on their level of influence – or in the lingo, rating “influencers.” Yet the companies are not simply looking at the number of followers or friends you’ve amassed. Rather, they are beginning to measure influence in more nuanced ways, and posting their judgments – in the form of a score – online.

To some, it’s an inspiring tool – one that’s encouraging the democratization of influence. No longer must you be a celebrity, a politician or a media personality to be considered influential. Social scoring can also help build a personal brand. To critics, social scoring is a brave new technoworld, where your rating could help determine how well you are treated by everyone with whom you interact.

Is this all there is? Are we now all resigned to a social media caste system where our digital selves are to be rated, traded, bartered, exchanged and sold?

For many lawyers, both old and new, borrowed and blue, the siren song of social media and its chorus of empty promises and get-rich-quick-or-die-tryin’ American Idolatry is too much to resist. The heart is willing, but the bank account is weak. The rocky shoals do not portend any risks. There’s only smooth sailing ahead. Professionalism and Ethics—the Scylla and Charybdis of Lawyering—are best avoided altogether on this epic voyage.

I read Brave New World as a high school student in Grade 10 English class.

At the time, in the unbridled optimism of my youth, Huxley’s dystopia was fanciful science-fiction. Nothing more, Nothing less. While George Orwell’s classic, 1984 has permeated the collective psyche, contorted by many into a convenient metaphor for totalitarianism and class conflict, it was Huxley’s novel that somehow remained imprinted into my sub-conscious. Brave New World inhabited the dark recesses of my mind, waiting patiently, like a crow hovering over freshly killed prey, to feast on a developing cynicism, eventually calcified, when Life’s inevitable disappointments and illusory achievements cumulatively took their toll.

Eighteen years ago I became a lawyer. It was my high school history teacher, Mr. Evans, whom I fondly remember suggesting that I should consider becoming a journalist or a lawyer.I thank him for the inspiration, but today, I feel old. Not chronologically, just existentially old. As though all the years I have spent learning, listening, working, trying to become a better lawyer, and thus, a better human being, have sped by like a freight train—the days, the months, the years—clipping past like dilapidated railway cars, quickly fading into the distance.

What is the point of writing about the Law, practicing the Law, living and breathing the Law, when all that was noble in our profession has been compromised, commodified, compartmentalized? What is the point?

Of course, lawyers need and want clients. Clients need and want lawyers. It is a symbiotic relationship, but a relationship where the client’s needs always must come first. We all need and want to be respected by our peers. Few of us are independently wealthy. We pay our bills and taxes. We deserve to make a living. Yet, is everything fungible, even your ethics? Are you willing to do anything to get a high Klout or Peer Index score, amass Twitter followers and Facebook friends? All at the expense of your clients and your profession?

Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor. Proverbs 18:12

What is the point in exposing the hypocrites; the liars; the egregiously incompetent; the unintegrious? Have you even asked yourself these questions? Do you care, or are you surfeit with the soma of self-promotion and self-congratulation, masquerading as self-actualization?

Where are all the lawyers? Where are the next Scott Greenfields, the Brian Tannebaums, the Mark Bennetts to take up the fight against the banality of it all?

I leave you with a final thought from Huxley’s Brave New World:

“The Gods are just. No doubt. But their code of law is dictated, in the last resort, by the people who organize society; providence takes its cue from men.”
- Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, Ch. 17

UPDATE: Many thanks to George Wallace, partner in the Pasadena, California, law firm of Wallace, Brown & Schwartz and author of the excellent A Fool in the Forest Blog and Declarations and Exclusions Blog,  for his comment and providing a link to a wonderful cartoon that visualizes the  thesis from Neil Postman’s 1985 book “Amusing Ourselves To Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show business”: http://www.recombinantrecords.net/docs/2009-05-Amusing-Ourselves-to-Death.html 


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