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Social Media for Legal Research and Investigation


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"Web 2.0" tools abound - blogs, social networks, wikis, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, RSS feeds, and much more. Many of these tools are free. This session will show you how to use these tools to keep up-to-date, enhance your research and collaborative work, network with others, and even gather information related to cases.

Published in: Education

Social Media for Legal Research and Investigation

  1. 1. WEB 2.0 FOR LAW LIBRARIANS: EXPLORING THE PRACTICAL SIDE OF SOCIAL MEDIA Kate Fitz Sacramento Co. Public Law Library March 14, 2010
  2. 2. WHAT IS WEB 2.0?  Amorphous buzzword attached to any new Internet phenomenon  “A service that is being offered on-line that is instantaneous and connective in some way”  Core concept: Software and services that enable easy publishing, reader/user participation, and the re-use of data in many formats  “Participatory Internet” – social media
  3. 3. Index of Web 2.0 sites EXAMPLES OF 2.0 SERVICES
  4. 4. WHY SHOULD WE CARE? Twitter, social networks, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, online communities New ways to find information on parties, witnesses and even jury members Blogs, podcasts, RSS news feeds, social bookmarking, Twitter • Tools for current awareness • Tools to streamline online research and retrieval Wikis, concept maps, collaborative editing • Easier collaboration with teams, colleagues, experts • Access to info from anywhere with a connection
  5. 5. AGENDA  Investigation and discovery  What kinds of info can you find? Social networks, status and location updates, photos/videos, reviews, shopping…  How can you use it? Background, informal investigation, discovery, evidence  Ethical and practical issues: pretexting, discovery, authentication  Current awareness and research  RSS feeds, including blogs  Mashups: Unfluence, Sacramento CrimeTracker  Bookmarks –,  Collaboration  Overview of Wikis, document editing, project management, more
  7. 7. INVESTIGATION AND DISCOVERY Information from the social web can play a role in criminal, torts, workers comp, IP and trade secret cases, defamation, family law… “As social networking websites continue to take the world by storm, there is a plethora of helpful (and hurtful) information for the savvy attorney.”* *Social Networking and its Effects on eDiscovery EDD Update, A joint project of Law Technology News and Legal Technology
  8. 8. SOCIAL NETWORKS  Social Networking in Plain English (Common Craft Store) 1:47 min  Examples:  MySpace – high school  Facebook – college, young adults  LinkedIn – professional networking  Ning – private networks anyone can create  Martindale –networking site aimed just at lawyers 8 Social Networking: For Lawyers Only? By Robert J. Ambrogi
  11. 11. FACEBOOK - CASUAL Brief updates, shared (tagged) photos, little games and quizzes, direct messages (replacing email), miniblogs, live chat, calendars, more
  15. 15. NETWORKS JUST FOR LAWYERS Social Networking for Lawyers (two parts) 05/2008 & 06/2008 Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites ( )
  16. 16. SOCIAL NETWORKS FOR INVESTIGATION “firm partner Joan Malbrough said she helped secure shared custody for a client after finding his wife had posted sexually explicit comments on her boyfriend's MySpace page.” “Finding Treasures for Cases on Facebook” National LJ, 10/15/2007 16 MySpace And Facebook Becoming Evidence In Court Feb 3, 2009
  17. 17. FACEBOOK PRIVACY POLICY  “Certain categories of information such as your name, profile photo, list of friends and pages you are a fan of, gender, geographic region, and networks you belong to are considered publicly available to everyone…”  “You understand that information might be re- shared or copied by other users. “Certain types of communications that you send to other users cannot be removed, such as messages.” Revised 12/09/2009
  18. 18. VIDEO AND PHOTO SHARING  YouTube (and and Truveo and YahooVideo and Vimeo and…)  (and and and…)  Allow tagging, comments, responses  What has your opponent (or your client) posted?
  19. 19. TWITTER
  20. 20. WHAT CAN TWITTER TELL YOU? •What have I said? “Tweets” •Who follows what I say? “Followers” •Who am I following and what have THEY said?
  21. 21. SEARCHING TWITTER…  “enough people are hooked on it that Twitter has reached critical mass. If something big is going on in the world, you can get information about it from Twitter.” * … perhaps not the best subject for a tweet? * learn-how-to-search-twitter/
  22. 22. OTHER WEB 2.0 SITES?  Meetup: Find out what groups people join by following them on Meetup, a social site that helps groups organize meetings in real life  Geni: Use this social network for organizing family trees and genealogy records to confirm family ties.  Retail: and eBay and Zappos and…  Music:, and…  Professional: Slideshare and and…  Travel planning sites…  More:
  23. 23. INVESTIGATION AND DISCOVERY  Fact investigation. (!) “These sites create a virtual gold mine of discoverable information that may have a devastating impact on a business' reputation or the outcome of litigation.”
  24. 24. SPOKEO SEARCH This is a sample (free) search – paid account would link to publicly available info from all these sites Services used by m (that’s me!)
  25. 25. FORMAL DISCOVERY  Locating, requesting litigation hold, subpoena  Facebook will accept service by fax or mail Attn: Security Department 1601 South California Avenue Palo Alto, CA 94304 fax: 650.644.3229 Facebook requires a subpoena from California.  MySpace requires personal service on its registered agent: 2121 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 700 Los Angeles, CA 90067 MySpace requires subpoena originating in CA or properly domesticated through a CA court.
  26. 26.  “Normally, when handed a civil subpoena, such as in a divorce, infidelity or child custody investigation, a service provider like Facebook (or Hotmail or Google) will resist disclosing the content of a user’s communications unless and until the user consents.”  Subpoena Facebook: Locating Social Network Legal Evidence (Electronic Data Records Law | How to Win E-Discovery)  Consent can be required via discovery
  27. 27. COUNSEL: WARN YOUR CLIENTS “Given the pervasive use of Facebook and the large volume of photographs typically posted on Facebook sites, it is now incumbent on a party’s counsel to explain to the client, in appropriate cases, that documents posted on the party’s Facebook profile may be relevant to allegations made in the pleadings.” Leduc v. Roman, 2009 CanLII 6838 (Superior Court of Justice, Ontario [Canada])
  28. 28. LIMITS ON 3RD PARTY DISCOVERY  Subpoena can be used to establish ownership of account, dates of creation and access, and other background info  Unfettered access would include access to info which is not subject to discovery; instead use request for production to plaintiff to obtain relevant, non-privileged records from the account. Mackelprang v Fidelity, 2007 WL 119149 (D.Nev) (D may not compel P to grant full access to MySpace account)
  29. 29. EVIDENTIARY ISSUES “…evidentiary issues involving privacy and authenticity that could keep the information out of a courtroom. For example, it is possible that one could create a Facebook profile in another person's name and use that account to send incriminating messages. There also is the issue of whether content that has been modified or removed from a profile during the course of litigation constitutes spoliation of evidence.” Social Networking Sites Look Like Plunder to Attorneys Ethan J. Wall Daily Business Review , February 20, 2009 “…the authenticity requirement is perhaps the most difficult obstacle for admissibility … a proponent must present testimony about where the [social networking website] data came from and who authored it.”
  30. 30. QUESTIONS?
  31. 31. RESEARCH TOOLS AND RESOURCES  Current awareness  Researching facts or law  Tools to streamline online research and retrieval
  32. 32. KEEPING CURRENT News, commentary, case updates, regulation tracking, dockets…
  33. 33. BLOGS  Many are free to create  Easy to create and post  Readers can subscribe for automatic updates  Readers can comment– popular posts may spark a dialog Free blog sites News and commentary Personal interests Organizations
  34. 34. LAW BLOGS OR “BLAWGS”  Written by practitioners or scholars  Regularly updated news, case reports, and commentary on specialized topics  Some offer regularly updated audio (“podcasts”) that you can download to your computer or iPod  RSS feeds can deliver the news to you
  35. 35. SUBSCRIBING TO BLOGS  Bloglines – http://www.bloglines. com/  Google Reader – com  Microsoft Outlook 2007 (ex: azqv58)  Somewhere on the blog will be a link to subscribe Subscribe Blogs in Plain English (2:58 min)
  36. 36. Most, if not all, blogs have a feed link somewhere
  37. 37. You can even subscribe to a blog that lets you know about new law blogs
  38. 38. PODCASTS AND VIDEOS  Audio and video recordings delivered by an RSS subscription to feed reader
  39. 39. GETTING YOUR RSS UPDATES 39 List of unread items – view by headline or brief summary List of subscribed blogs Click either arrow to visit original blog
  40. 40. FINDING BLAWGS  ABA’s top 100 blawgs: aba_journal_blawg_100  There are also lists of blogs by category from:  ABA:   Justia:  Law X.0 Taxonomy of Legal Blogs: 03/a_taxonomy_of_l.html
  41. 41. EVALUATING BLOGS  Consider update frequency – too often may indicate shallow coverage, too infrequently may indicate lack of commitment  Check “about this blog” for info on author(s)  Do they archive, tag, and/or categorize posts to make it easy to find past info? 41
  42. 42. RSS – NOT JUST FOR BLOGS ANY MORE!  Many websites offer to notify you of updates via RSS  Many news outlets offer RSS feeds for breaking news  RSS feeds have been created for particular purposes – Cal. Supreme Court, Federal Register, etc. Useful feeds:
  43. 43. NEWS SOURCES  “channels” let you subscribe by topic
  44. 44. COURT DECISIONS Public Library of Law
  46. 46. SUBSCRIBE TO UPDATES OF YOUR SEARCH 46 Automatically learn when a person or company is sued in Federal court
  49. 49. FEDERAL REGULATIONS “On this site you can: …Subscribe to RSS feeds by agency of newly posted FR notices”
  50. 50. FEDERAL REGISTER VIA RSS RSS feed of new regs from your agency or on your topic
  51. 51. CURRENT LAW JOURNAL CONTENT  Table of Contents service
  53. 53. Check out NOT JUST LEGAL NEWS…
  54. 54. CREATE YOUR OWN NEWS FEEDS Yahoo! News feeds – articles from many sources on your topics of choice
  55. 55. RESEARCHING FACTS AND LAW  Blogs and news for historical research  Online databases  Mashups
  56. 56. PRIMARY SOURCES ON THE INTERNET  CA Case Law  California Courts: opinions/  Findlaw :  CA Statutes calaw.html  CA Code of Regulations:  Fed/Other Case Law  Altlaw:  PreCyDent:  Justia:  Fed/Other Statutes, Regs, etc  Code of Federal Regulations: cfr/index.html  Findlaw:  Public Library of Law (by Fastcase): Search.aspx.
  57. 57. SECONDARY SOURCES ON THE INTERNET  Washburn Legal Research on the Web: law reviews –  Google Scholar –  Cornell LII “Wex” –  Law blogs (“blawgs”) –  Findlaw Legal Subjects –  Nolo’s “Nolopedia” –  California Courts – 57
  58. 58. SEARCHING BLOGS  General purpose search engines  “The goal of Blog Search is to include every blog that publishes a site feed” 
  60. 60. COMMUNITY-CONTRIBUTED RESOURCES Free access to research papers, sample documents, more  SSRN (  Legal Scholarship Network ( , JD – store and research documents
  61. 61. MASHUPS  Remixing Data and Web Services  Sacramento CrimeTracker:  Unfluence:  Votetocracy:  Apps for Democracy (Washington, DC): application-directory/  Monopoly City Streets:
  62. 62. CRIMEMAPPING™  Combines Google Map with crime reports from many agencies  Click pin for details
  64. 64. SOCIAL BOOKMARKS  Instead of adding a site to your browser’s “favorites” or “bookmarks,” add it to a personal online archive  Advantages:  Access: from any computer since it’s not stored online instead of in your browser  Retrieval: Search your own archive by tag, keyword or category to re-locate sites of interest  Social: Search others’ archives to discover new sites already chosen as worthy of a bookmark Social Bookmarking in Plain English (Common Craft Store) 3:25 min.
  65. 65. 65 Click “tag”
  66. 66. SEARCH BOOKMARKS – YOURS AND OTHERS 66 Find a user's picks interesting? Consider subscribing to their new bookmarks! Search by tag or keyword
  67. 67. RE-USE BOOKMARKS AS CONTENT 67 Latest news – automatically updated whenever I bookmark a site
  68. 68. BOOKMARKING, PLUS! Mark, copy, save and share any web- based content m
  69. 69. ARCHIVE OF PAGES AND YOUR ANNOTATIONS Highlight, make notes, comment, save for later “projects” – categories of bookmarks – can be private or public – you can invite others to share “private” projects
  70. 70. ICYTE SAVES THE CURRENT VERSION Later, return to see your annotations, highlights, etc – even if the page is no longer on the Web Live view
  71. 71. SEARCHING YOUR ICYTE ARCHIVE Search by the tags you assign Search the full text of the saved pages!
  72. 72. USING ICYTE BOOKMARKS ELSEWHERE News feed (RSS) of new Cytes Embed project in another website
  73. 73. EMBEDDED PROJECT  Class wiki: http://web24lawyers.
  74. 74. EXPORT AND SHARING OPTIONS Exporte d into Word
  76. 76. COLLABORATIVE TOOLS USING WEB 2.0  Wikis: knowledge management tool for groups  Collaborative documents: Writeboard, Google Docs, Zoho  Concept mapping:  Online calendaring: Google Calendar, Yahoo calendar  Project and knowledge management: Basecamp, Sharepoint  Screensharing and online meetings: Adobe Acrobat Connect, 76
  77. 77. WIKIS  Wikis in Plain English (Common Craft Store) 3:52 min.  Wikis: not just Wikipedia! (knowledge management tool)  Create your own (public or private) and invite editors to collaborate with you.  Use for collecting case info among several people; easily-updated procedures manual; project planning; more  PBWorks legal package 77
  78. 78. WEB 2.0 FOR LAWYERS WIKI 78 Just for this class! http://web24lawyers.
  79. 79. COLLABORATIVE TOOLS IN DEPTH  The Lawyer's Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies: Smart Ways to Work Together (ABA, 2008) KF320 .A9 K46  Companion page:  “The Case for Collaborative Tools,” by Lucie Olejnikova and Jessica de Perio Wittman pub_sp0812/pub_sp0812_PLL.pdf
  80. 80. THANK YOU FOR ATTENDING!  Help me improve future versions! Please fill out evaluations  Follow us on twitter: saclawlibrarian  Find us on Facebook:  View related resources: