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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Good Lesson for Lawyers Engaging in Social Media

From Professional Liability Matters comes a story about an attorney who narrowly escaped court-imposed sanctions after posting a picture on Facebook of the attorney smiling with his client with the following caption:  "Pic After Making a $43 Million Dollar Demand at Mediation."  When opposing counsel learned of the Facebook post, he filed a motion for sanctions against the attorney claiming that the photograph was a knowing and willful violation of state confidentiality provisions that prohibit the disclosure of mediation communications. The Judge dismissed the motion for sanctions, but nevertheless the attorney did subsequently remove the Facebook post according to an interview with   

Even though the attorney escaped sanctions, this is a good reminder for attorneys of their ethical obligations when using social media.  There are a number of ethical rules that come into play, including rules to protect attorney-client communications, prohibit the misrepresentation of material facts, and limitations on advertisement and solicitation, among many others. 

For more information about attorney ethics and social media, you can check out the following materials I prepared for an upcoming seminar for local government attorneys on the legal and ethical issues relating to social media.  We also devoted an entire chapter to attorney ethics in the book published by the ABA earlier this year, Social Media & Local Governments - Navigating the New Public Square. 

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