Hey…I’m Famous! “Lawyers’ online acts have consequences”

Ok, not really. But I was extensively quoted in an article about social media in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that was published today.  Because I am a lawyer I love seeing my name in the press. Oh come on, admit it, so do you. The article is called Lawyers’ online acts have consequences.

Alas, the author, Gabrielle Banks, stated that I “specialize.”  I know, I know, it is ok to say I specialize since I am acting as a consultant and not a lawyer, and of course, I have no control over what someone writes about me. Still it makes me wince. Conditioning I guess. Also, the issue of the words specialize and expert never came up in our discussion, so Ms. Banks wouldn’t have known otherwise.

I note the number one rule of Jennifer, If you cannot do it offline you cannot do it online, made it in, along with what can be considered the number two rule of Jennifer, don’t hire someone to do something you are not allowed to do yourself. Very nice. Also that little pesky rule about being honest…that’s a good one too.

Of course, illegal to friend a judge is a strong word. Unethical would be more appropriate and there were a few issues here and there; but I am picking nits, as the expression goes, for an article written by a nonlawyer, in what is really a very complex area to understand.

Over all, I thought  Ms. Banks did a great job conveying the issues that attorneys face when it comes to their behavior online. And her conclusion, which I will quote, is right on point, “Despite the litany of cautions, several of the experts agreed that it’s still important for a law practice to have an online presence. The key is to do your homework and get legal advice of your own as you go about it.”

I’d like to thank the colleagues I sent Ms. Banks’ way who took the time to help.  Harold Goldner (Kraut Harris), Jim Singer (Pepper Hamilton) and Todd Schill (Rhoads & Sinon,) I thought your quotes were extremely appropriate.  When we first spoke, some weeks ago, it was clear that Ms. Banks was trying to figure out where to start, and it is also clear that you gentlemen really helped her out.  I applaud Ms. Banks for taking the time to do her research, we spent a lot of time on the phone, she contacted many of the people I suggested, and quite a few of them made it into the article. Ms. Banks also took the time to read materials I sent her and to follow up when she needed more information. It is nice to know there are still news people out there who do the background work necessary to write a solid article.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am extremely concerned about how attorneys conduct themselves online, both for their own sakes and for how it makes the legal profession appear. Hopefully Ms. Banks’ article will help bring some public attention to the matter.

Unfortunately I guess I will need to come up with something besides my “why is social media different from a cocktail party” line. Oh well. The price of fame.


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