Facebook has over 540 million users as of 3Q 2010, and the average user has 135 friends.
LinkedIn has over 80 million users as of October 2010 (approximately 1.5 million of whom are lawyers).
Twitter has well over 100 million users and records an average of 55 million tweets per day. New users are signing up at the rate of 300,000 per day.
133 million blogs have been indexed by Technorati since 2002.
An October 10, 2010 study by CNN of how we share and consume news found that social media is the most frequent way that we share stories online. In their study of 2,300 people over two months, they found that social media was used to share news in 43% of all instances - higher than email, the 2nd most frequent method of sharing, with 30%. SMS was third at 15% and instant messenger 4 th at 12%.
Few legal or ethical precedents for social networking
Policing is difficult and time consuming
Human resources risks
You’re not alone: In a recent Finance & Commerce article, 81% of large corporations describe social media as a “corporate security risk.” However, 73% said they’d still increase its use over the next 12 months.
ABA Journal legal reporter Rachel Zahorsky writes, “Varied and outdated ethics rules in regards to online communication, as well as numerous examples of cases put in real jeopardy because of prosecutors and judges posting on Facebook or jurors twittering mid-trial, only fuel a general tendency in the legal profession to distrust new technologies.”
Social media evidence has changed the landscape of discovery, in particular in employment law. Such evidence comes with dates, time stamps, and unseen embedded information such as metatags and geotags.
Be sure to search for all publicly available information on plaintiff/employee who has filed a case against your client/employer - ie: status updates, wall postings, tweets, photos/videos - that relate to the complaint.
In EEOC v. Simply Storage Management (a sexual harassment case with a claim for severe emotional distress), a federal court permitted an employer to obtain discovery of an employee’s social networking activity that, through privacy settings, the employee had made “private” and not available to the general public.
Social media evidence has also been used to prove drug use, gun possession, infidelity in divorces cases, etc.
Look out for the NLRB to get involved in labor disputes involving use of social media in the workplace. The board already has its own Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter Feed!
Should employers conduct online searches of job applicants?
If, as part of recruiting, you seek out an applicant’s Facebook or LinkedIn profile, you could easily ascertain info such as age, pregnancy, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or other info don’t want to have. If a candidate finds out, can he/she accuse you of using impermissible and/or discriminatory facts?
What actions can/should an employer take to protect trade secrets and other confidential information after employment ends ?
Should employers monitor their employees’ online activities during employment?
Should employers monitor their employees’ online activities during employment?
Inc.com reported a story about a single mother in St. Louis who, during the day, worked for a non-profit. At night, she wrote an anonymous sex blog called “The Beautiful Kind.” She’d managed to keep her online identity a secret until she created her Twitter profile, when she used her real name, thinking that only her handle would be visible. She was subsequently fired when her boss uncovered her extracurricular “activities” in a company-mandated search of online activities of its employees.
The employee was terminated as a result of conduct that did not involve her job . She was blogging during nonworking time on a computer not owned by her employer or connected to her employer’s network. In some states, where off-duty conduct is protected to varying degrees, the termination may be unlawful. However, in Missouri, which does not have any laws offering such protection to employees, it would appear that the termination was entirely lawful.
Legal OnRamp – maintains 3:1 ratio of in-house to outside counsel; 11,600 members as of October 2010; law firms can have “Private Ramps” to showcase their thought leadership in a particular niche.
Martindale Hubbell Connected – information hub of approx 11,000 legal professionals, blogs, topical discussion groups and global forums; has database of more than 100,000 experts, consultants and other legal service professionals.
JD Supra – repository of free legal information shared by the legal professionals who generate it. Members get access to a database of documents – court filings, decisions, forms, articles, alerts, newsletters – uploaded daily by lawyers & law firms, public interest & advocacy groups, law professors & their students, and numerous other members of the legal community; recently announced partnership with LinkedIn .
Law Link – social network for legal community; about 8,000 members in 4 separate but interconnected social networks: The Attorney Network, The Expert Witness Network, The Law Student Network and The Law Professional Network; Q&A still sparse.
Legally Minded – sponsored by the ABA; site currently contains profiles, news and job postings but not much else; membership about 2,000.
HubStreet – newly launched networking site for attorneys, accountants and lenders/bankers; jury is still out.
Question: What is the Key Benefit of Legal OnRamp?
Response by general counsel :
“ In general as a business, and especially now coming into this recession, we need to save money. As a GC, I'm under tremendous pressure to manage costs while improving quality and service. A Web 2.0 Collaboration platform like Legal OnRamp helps me in two ways. First, it is a way to manage work and avoid re-inventing the wheel; I can access thousands of answers to every day questions, share forms or use free tools . Second, it is a way to find the very best lawyers , because the best lawyers are almost always the most efficient and effective. So for example [attorney name], a very capable litigator, has an excellent profile and actively contributes to conversations about how to make litigation more rational.”
“ Back in June, Jones Day confirmed that it had laid off staff in Dallas and LA. A recent press release from the FBI suggests that the firm had layoffs in D.C., too. The firm did not mention this back in June, perhaps because it did not want to have to relate the disturbing story of what was found in the desk drawer of one of their recently-axed employees…”
“ Above the Law has learned that Husch Blackwell let go of around 20 attorneys, associates and non-equity partners, earlier last month. We heard rumblings that Husch was planning on making cuts as far back as this July, but it appears that the layoffs only went through in September. Thanks to our sources, some of whom contacted us on our new text message line (646-820-TIPS), we’ve now received multiple reports of layoffs at the firm.”
“ In part 1 of the results of the Associate Morale Survey, brought to you by Lateral Link, we revealed that 74% of respondents felt that associate morale was either the same or worse than last year.”
“ Loyola students are having difficulty getting jobs. In response, did the administration consider dropping tuition? Nope. Instead, they just gave everybody an extra third of a grade — retroactively, no less. That’s not just inflation; that’s a rewriting of history. Really, are employers out there going to fall for this? Loyola hopes so….”
Bob White, a partner in a Florida firm, uses Twitter to share the best tech articles he finds each week. After a few months of finding and sharing great articles, Bob brought in a couple of tech companies as new clients.
Sullivan & Cromwell partner Frank Aquila, who was named a Legal Rebel by the ABA Journal in part because of his use of Twitter, captivates his nearly 1,400 followers daily with insightful and sometimes humorous tweets. His biz dev success with social media has prompted others to get involved.
Tom Fox developed a solo practice focusing on the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) exclusively through blogging, twitter, and webinars. He has been hired to develop and conduct a series of FCPA speeches around the country later this year and is currently engaged in an FCPA consulting assignment for a major U.S. corporation.
NYC based attorney Cari Rinker has set up profiles with Twitter, Facebook, Cornell Law, JDSupra, and LinkedIn and connects with her market through her Agriculture Law and Policy Blog . She has gained national recognition as an agricultural and environmental attorney.
Robert Thomas, an appellate and eminent domain lawyer in Hawaii whose blog has won him attention from ABA colleagues and journalists both nationally and internationally, has netted two Fortune 100 clients via his blog.
Glenn Manshin, an IP and technology lawyer, has landed six clients in the past year as a direct result of his social media activity.
23-attorney firm Parker Waichman Alonso set up several websites after the BP oil spill with news on the disaster (ie: bigspills.com, oilspillsclaims.com) and has filed a dozen lawsuits, according to the Wall Street Journal .