June 15, 2011

Back to Work on Social Media Ethics Issues for Lawyers, Judges, Jurors, and Others

Posted in Best practices, Courts and social media, Facebook, Judicial misconduct, Jury misconduct, LinkedIn, Twitter, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 11:05 pm by bizlawblog

Writing Class 1photo © 2008 Karen Chichester | more info (via: Wylio)
It should be obvious from looking at the date of my last post on this blog that I’ve taken something of a leave of absence from actively posting here. I have been periodically updating the best practices page, but other than starting several articles I’ve not yet finished, I’ve not been actively and regularly posting here for quite some time.

On the other hand, I’ve been pretty active on Twitter, having recently passed the 3,500 hundred Tweet mark (not that this is necessarily “a good thing”), mainly about social media issues and applied entrepreneurship tactics, and developed a little band of “followers.” I’ve likewise assembled an impressive group of “smart folks” who I follow and read regularly. The Twitter ecosystem of experts is impressive if you can figure out how to sort through all the snake oil salesmen.

During my “leave of absence” from this blog, I’ve likewise posted thousands of articles on the two groups I started on LinkedIn, Applied Entrepreneurship and Social Media Search and Forensics. I also started a Facebook group on Applied Entrepreneurship. I’m even starting to raise my Klout score to a respectable level, but that has not left me much time to tend to this blog, and I’m sorry about that and I plan to remedy it.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on presentations for the Louisville Bar Association and a series of CLE seminars for the Kentucky Bar Association on ethics and social media forensics issues for attorneys. I didn’t mean to leave the judges or jurors out, but with the opposing ethics opinions in Kentucky (saying it is OK for judges to have attorney “friends” on Facebook) and Florida saying just the opposite, I’m going to leave the judiciary alone for a while. I’ll get back to them shortly, and have started an article about some of the good and bad things judges are doing with, and to social media. With regard to juror misconduct involving social media in some way, articles now pop up every day, and I periodically add citations, in the comments, to my earlier post, Social Networking Threatens Another Jury Verdict.

What I have also done is to add a couple of files via the box.net widget at the bottom of the right hand column on this blog and on my LinkedIn profile page. One file is an Excel spreadsheet I had kept updated until early last year, giving title, author, date, and URL for hundreds of articles I “curated” on social media issues. I’ve just started to update that with dozens of additional articles, now reaching a total of over 500 articles related to social media issues. I have many more I have not yet had time to add, but will work on that in the next week. I have also started to include the URL of ethics opinions available online, started to refresh my tags column so one can sort the articles a little better by topic, and even added a jurisdiction column so ethics opinions will be “sortable” by state.

Also available from the box.net widget is a Social Media Glossary” in Word format, which I created for a Louisville Bar Association seminar I did last year on social media. I’ve added a number of terms and definitions to it, and it can likewise be downloaded.

If you liked what I was posting but wondered what happened to me, I hope you now know a little of what I’ve been up to. I hope the improvements to the resources, along with an effort to post on a more regular basis, will allow you to forgive my absence.



  1. Good to have you back Stuart! I can relate to the difficulty of having so many different “pokers” in the proverbial fire that it seems like I can’t do an adequate job of keeping up with any of them! Then there’s the practice itself — the one that pays the bills for it all! LOL Part of the problem (or opportunity) is that these tech-law issues are evolving so rapidly that it seems like everyday there is something new that needs to be examined. It is like trying to get a sip of water from a fire hose! At any rate, I’ll keep an eye on you here and look forward to your new posts.

    • bizlawblog said,

      Thanks Shawn. I know you’ve been busy on your own posts and Tweets. I mentioned in my prepared material for the Kentucky Bar Association CLE series on social media ethics for lawyers that when I did another social media for lawyers CLE program for them two years ago, there was very little material out there to use as a resource. By the time I had to submit the material for printing prior to the start of the series, it did seem like the fire hose had been turned on.
      After going around the state for a couple of months presenting those sessions, there was quite a bit of material and it has exploded every day since then. That’s one reason I started keeping the Excel spreadsheet with article URLs and basic tags, but I started posting them so fast I thought couldn’t take the time to even bookmark them to delicious or another platform. Now I wish I had, but this also gives me an opportunity to fiddle with the spreadsheet fields so this can be a more valuable resource for others besides myself.
      Thanks for your comment and for your great posts.

  2. Stuart, the spreadsheet is a great idea! In the past year I have read so many opinions on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that I can’t even begin to count them — so I decided to start my own “Excel Digest” of all the cases where I tried to track certain features of them to look for patterns … well, I just couldn’t keep up! I have about 10 cases on it but it was just too time consuming (considering I’m still doing this “just for fun”). I am going to check out your spread sheet and see if I can borrow a few ideas on how to simplify mine and maybe get it back on track!

    Regarding all of the information that is out there, it really is unfathomable. Honestly, when I first started using Twitter my primary purpose was to use it to distribute my own content to others. I have since found, however, that I learn exponentially more from others’ shared content on Twitter than I could ever have imagined. Honestly, I learn more from one 30 minute block of time reading blogs and other content shared on Twitter than I do in a years worth of mandatory CLE (and it’s free!) and it never stops! Just last week I had to adapt my strategy a little and start using the Google Reader RSS feeds for many of my “regular sources” of information because I was just missing too much on Twitter. I am now using Twitter and the RSS feed as my primary vehicles for obtaining information which I then cull by using Instapaper to store information that I find potentially interesting and then, if I really find value in it, I save and categorize it in Evernote for future reference. It’s working … but it’s complicated! But it’s evolving and that’s the whole purpose, to get more and more efficient!

    • bizlawblog said,

      I’m going to have to try your system and I hope you’ll give me some feedback on my Excel method. Obviously, the fewer the keystrokes, the more likely it is that either of us will be able to keep up the volume of posting output while sticking to the system somewhat consistently over time. I’ve got a gap of a year and a half in mine, and I started my Excel system primarily for my Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn, and my posts on the corresponding Applied Entrepreneurship blog, so I wouldn’t repeat the same “gems” I found while doing research.
      After a few months of putting up ten or so articles a day when I started the LinkedIn group, I found that I was losing track of what I had posted. When I ran across an old chestnut I thought valuable, I was having a hard time remembering if I’d commented on it or not, although I knew I’d read it before. The Excel sheet was what I finally hit on to help, because I could sort it by article date, title of article, and the date I had posted it in some fashion. That allowed me to archive articles and see that I had not yet posted them yet. It also became a good resoure for me when I wanted to find material I had read, to use in a seminar or article.
      After a few thousand posts on the Applied Entrepreneurship blog (and separate Excel spreadsheet) and LinkedIn group, as well as starting this blog and corresponding LI group, I simply didn’t have the time to keep it up.
      My other problem is that, despite three monitors (plus mini) on my desk, I typically end up with about 20-30 Internet Explorer windows open at a time, plus Word, Excel, Amicus, and a few others. Even with plenty of power (and memory) in the machines, they start to squeek.
      With the latest version of Dragon, I may actually try to play with voice recognition as a tool for input on the Excel sheet, but I’m afraid the “strange” author names, unususal spelling of words in many titles, etc., would clog that up, even if I dump the URL into the column with a cut and paste.
      Maybe if we can get some others interested in this discussion, we can collaborate in Web 3.0 fashion and come up with something we’re all happy with.

  3. Stuart,

    My first thought upon seeing your Excel sheet when it opened was, “HOLY SMOKES!!!” (at least I hope that last word was smokes) — Man, the amount of work you have put into that thing is amazing, not only in terms of volume, but in the depth of substance as well. Very impressive. While I was hoping that I could look at your list and find a way to simplify my own, it is apparent that neither of us are very good it just doing a hodgepodge job of things and put a lot of effort into our work; that is, neither of our sheets are very simple! The truth is, however, I’m not sure that just putting together a simple sheet would be worth the effort in terms of substantive value. On the other hand, I can only imagine how many hours you have put into your efforts because in only getting 10 or so entries on mine I found it to be simply too time consuming vis-a-vis the other projects (and work) (and family) that I have going on at the time. Seriously, Stuart, how on earth did you find the time to put 535 of these entries??? Now, having said this,

    As to the purpose of your efforts, just this morning I tweeted an article and as I did so I thought “how great would it be if I could have this article, as well as other tweaks of good substantive information, go to a page on my blog that would be categorized by substance area, and be available to all of the five or so regular readers of my blog 🙂 is well this future reference. I use WordPress to blog and my HootSuite application makes it very easy to send out such things via WordPress at the same time that I do on Twitter but is not looking for– I do not want each article to appear as though it were a new blog post. Nor to I want to appear as though I’m some kind of aggregator of other folks’ articles (what do they call those, “content farms”?) — but I just think it would be a great idea. The question is, how do we do it? If we had an easy, web/blog based platform for doing this it would save time, it would save us both from the repetitive efforts such as my RSS > Instapaper > Evernote > still not having it available for readers … as you suggested, if we could get others involved in this discussion perhaps we could get some better ideas — can you just “transfer” all of this over to LinkedIn or something like that? I’d really love to find a better way to do this!

    Now, as to that hardware setup that you have — man o man you have a control room set up don’t you! haha! As for Dragon, I too am getting used to using it as I simply must take advantage of any productivity tools that I can to try and make myself more efficient … but I get tired of correcting words and agree, it’s a bear to use for things such as a URL where one simple mistake renders the entire thing useless.

    Stuart — let’s get this Web 3.0 discussion going — I want to find an easier way to get this done!!!

    • bizlawblog said,

      Thought I’d let you know I actually used the comments you made here in the seminar I gave yesterday on social media ethics and forensics for lawyers. I used it to illustrate the semantic value of things such as blogs for lawyers. My comment was to the effect that I had simply thrown up a new post after a long “leave of absence,” but the value of the post turned out, in true Web 3.0 fashion, to come from the user-initiated discussion. In this case, the comments are much more valuable than the original post, which was simply meant to be analagous to a “We’re Open” sign in the window.
      The discussion we’ve had here will hopefully benefit both of us, but with even more hope and a little luck, maybe we can get somebody smarter than us to help us with our mutual dilemma of archiving all these social media sources we’re coming up with and generating. I also mentioned to the audience that since getting on Twitter a couple of years ago, and finally getting going with some posts of my own, I’ve found some online friends with whom to periodically share some pearls of wisdom, and get a majority of my “news” from Twitter rather than newspaper, magazines, TV, etc. The 140 digit limit can end up causing some blind alleys, but it also allows quite a bit of information to be packed into the little bit of space I’ve got on my three or four active monitors on the desk. With a little filtering, it typically is pretty easy to stay up on things faster than alternative sources.
      When I posted a query on LinkedIn a year or so ago asking for help from somebody on the bookmarking issue, about all I got was delicious.com. Maybe this time, between the two of us, we can stir up a dialogue on this and develop something that will help all of us. I hope we don’t have to build or own app.
      Thanks again for your comments.

  4. Stuart, I am glad to hear that our conversation turned out to be of some substantive value and you were able to use it to make a good point: social media done properly is akin to a conversation among friends over a beer, where all share–some more than others–and all learn–some more than others! The point is, each conversation has a starting place but, when real people are involved, you never really know where the conversation is going to go! It’s life, virtually!

    Now, as to that bugaboo of an issue you and I are trying to figure out, man I tell you what …

    I have struggled over this since we last “spoke” a week ago and I can’t say that I’ve made much progress. I’ve tried to figure out all of the “links” features of my WordPress blog but it just doesn’t get me there. I’ve tried, after your mention, to use Delicious, but that’s not what I’m looking for either. I really don’t know what else to do in a “techy” way to make this easy — and I don’t want to “Press This” (i.e., “blog”) each new link because that just makes one heck of a mess! At this point I am not seeing any other option for getting a true substantively valuable “links page” than by setting up a new page on my blog and manually imputing each and every link / page …

    Surely there’s a better way! Come on, someone out there who’s reading this, give Stuart and I the Web 3.0 help we need and tell us how to “git ‘er done!”

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