In Packingham v. North Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a North Carolina statute prohibiting certain social media use by registered sex offenders.
But before the hegemonic rise of social media, lawyers couldn’t use all evidence available to them simply because it existed. There are ethical rules that attorneys must abide by, and that doesn’t change simply because social media marks new and untested territory. Writing for the New York Law Journal, Christopher Boehning and Daniel Toal point to three recent ethics decisions that may shed a light on the future of social media use for lawyers. These ethical quandaries include the debate over social media use among jurors, propriety issues surrounding social media, and the prospect of “friending” potential witnesses.
If you drive, it’s likely that you’ve talked, texted, or typed on your smart phone while behind the wheel, and it’s even more likely that you’ve seen others drive distracted. But despite the overwhelming prevalence of technology, a new report by GMAC Insurance suggests that people are starting to get the message about the dangers of distracted driving. In fact, nearly 75 percent of teenagers, the demographic most likely to text and drive, have said they have stopped using their cell phones in the car altogether. The report credits awareness programs, state laws prohibiting distracted driving, and technology that have made cell phones safer.
Just weeks ago, Google launched its response to social media giant Facebook, and speculation has already soared. Some have predicted that the Google Plus Project could be a “Facebook killer,” while others say it’ll fail like the search giant’s past social flops, Buzz and Wave. It’s most likely that Google+ will fall somewhere between those two fates, but what’s certain is that lawyers who have embraced other social media platforms are sure to join. To help out with the move to Google+ some of the best legal blogs out there have offered best practices advice.
There’s no doubt that the stunning rise of social media has left an indelible impact on most professional industries. But few industries have been as troubled by ethical questions following the rise of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as the legal industry. Many lawyers embraced social media in their personal lives, but professional conduct has proven to be a completely different story, especially when it comes to connecting with other lawyers, or even judges. While the American Bar Association has not yet set clear guidelines for ethical social media use among lawyers, the issue has sparked a spirited debate here in California and throughout the country.