ILTA White Paper

Social Networking

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 30

ILTA White Paper Social Networking 14 correct either. The experience of other industries shows that a laissez faire approach can be equally dangerous. For example, when Honda published preview photos of its Crosstour vehicle on Facebook, its fan page quickly filled with negative comments from "fans." Some of the only positive comments that appeared came from Eddie Okubo who turned out to be a product manager at Honda. He hadn't disclosed that fact in his comments, an action which generated outrage in the blogosphere. While Mr. Okubo was certainly within his rights to defend his vehicle, he acted without corporate permission and ended up harming his cause far more than if he simply remained silent. As a result of such incidents, the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics and the Healthcare Compliance Association joint survey of their members showed that 50 percent of companies had adopted policies addressing employee online activity outside the workplace. It's a sure bet that number is only going to rise in the future. The stakes are even higher for law firms. In other industries, inappropriate behavior impacts the brand image of the firm. In the legal field, improper use of social media often has direct legal impact. Doug Cornelius points out, "When it comes to expressing opinions about anything having to do with the law, law firm employees are in a special position and have some limitations that other industries do not have." For example, ABA Model Rule 7.1 states, "A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading." This rule is interpreted differently by different states. Arkansas [Rule 7.1 (d)], Florida [Rule 4-7.2(c)(1)(J)], Indiana [Rule 7.2(d)(3)], South Carolina [Rule 7.1(d)], and Wyoming [Rule 7.2(h)] all explicitly prohibit any kind of testimonial in attorney advertising. Nevada, Pennsylvania, California, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and virginia have limitations on what can be said in a testimonial or a disclaimer that needs to be present. Among the other issues Cornelius cites are: • Statements in public forums may inadvertently create an attorney-client relationship and may also violate the rules prohibiting law firm advertising. • There can be a fine line between supplying legal information and supplying legal advice. • Recommendations are particularly problematic. In some jurisdictions they can be viewed as testimonials and attorney advertising. Even where law and regulation aren't relevant, the nature of legal work itself can be problematic. As "in other industries, inappropriate behavior impacts the brand image of the firm. in the legal field, improper use of social media often has direct legal impact."

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of ILTA White Paper - Social Networking