Resource Round-Up: Social Media & the Law

Social Media for Lawyers, a Legal Tech Institute CLE at the Harris County Law Library

As we approach the end of November, Social Media Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library is coming to a close. The Legal Tech Institute presented its first CLE, Social Media for Lawyers, as its debut event in late October, and several articles pertaining to social media and the law have been featured on Ex Libris Juris over the last several weeks. Now, to conclude this month, we are featuring a final round-up of social media law resources.

A number of law firms and news outlets publish social media law blogs, some of which are featured below. References to additional resources in the Harris County Law Library's collection, including legal texts and treatises and featured articles by leading social media law experts, can be found on the Social Media for Texas Lawyers Resource Guide

Social Media Law Bulletin, published by Norton Rose Fulbright

Social Media & Games Law Blog, published by Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

Social Media Law, published by Above The Law

TYLA Pocket Guide: Social Media 101, published by Texas Young Lawyers Association

Social Media News Round-up

November is Social Media Law Resources Month at the Harris County Law Library. As the week wraps up, here are a few of the social media stories making news this week. 

In a Divorce, Who Gets Custody of Electronic Data? The Lawyers

The use of social media as evidence in divorce cases has increased dramatically over the last three to five years. Lawyers introduce text messages and social media posts into almost all of their hearings and trials. How and what a person communicates via social media can reveal a lot about a person's character and may also offer clues about one's finances or hidden assets. Christine Leatherberry, a family lawyer in Dallas who is quoted in the article, advises her clients to expect that anything shared via email or posted on a social network will be blown up on a poster board and displayed in a courtroom.

K Street Says Social Media is Growing Faster than Traditional Lobbying as Way to Influence Washington

According to a recent survey of lobbyists, lawyers, think tank leaders, and other advocacy groups, social media is the fastest-growing communications channel for influencing the political process. Those who aim to persuade policy makers understand the importance of social networks and the power of public opinion. They are increasing their allocation of funds to engage with social media on a larger scale.

Can You Take a Voting Selfie? States Wage Legal Battles Days Before Election

Ballot box selfies are prohibited in 18 states, but challenges to the law have been advanced in Colorado, Michigan, and New York just days before voters head to the polls. Opponents of laws that permit election-day selfies say that photographs taken at the polls compromise the integrity of the election. Supporters dispute this claim, saying that no evidence of voter intimidation exists. Muddled laws in several states are sure to create confusion as voters test the limits of what is prohibited and what is actually enforced.    

Latest & Greatest: Social Media 101 for Lawyers

To kick off Social Media Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library, we're highlighting a couple of very helpful resources. The first is a Pocket Guide published by the Texas Young Lawyers Association called Social Media 101. The second is a white paper, recently published by Thomson Reuters and FindLaw, called From Novelty to Necessity: Pragmatic Social Media for Law Firms

TYLA's Social Media 101 provides an excellent review of electronic communication as regulated speech and the requirements that all attorneys must meet when advertising online. According to the State Bar's Advertising Review Committee (ARC) and the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct, any content posted to social media for marketing or solicitation purposes must be filed with the ARC. However, according to an exception in Rule 7.07, content that is not "prepared to secure paid professional employment" is exempt. Communications that inform potential clients about the law (such as an article you might write for your firm's blog) and content that is more social in nature (photographs on Facebook of your firm at a charity event, or a link on Twitter to an inspiring TED Talk, for example) need not be submitted. Even so, the TYLA Pocket Guide advises that, when in doubt, it is best to file any electronic content that can be construed as advertising to the ARC. 

From Novelty to Necessity, covers a different aspect of social media, namely the imperative that all lawyers maintain a digital presence. Based on data that show the advantages of using social media to market services and build professional networks, the authors assert that having a digital presence is no longer optional. They also discuss how to use social media effectively. Identify the factors that set your firm apart, they say, and develop a marketing strategy that differentiates your brand. Spell out the qualities that make your firm unique, including the benefits of retaining your services, and present them in ways that resonate with potential clients. Then, communicate the benefits consistently across all social media platforms. Try to achieve a sort of "calculated authenticity" so that clients and potential clients see you as approachable, open, accessible, and willing to interact. Community-based lawyers, in particular, must be willing to share part of themselves before clients are willing to share their personal needs. When executed in accordance with the State Bar's requirements for electronic communication, the benefits can be substantial. 

Latest & Greatest - Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square

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   By Patricia E. Salkin & Julie A. Tappendorf  Published by the American Bar Association. Section of State and Local Government Law  KF 5300 .S63 2013

By Patricia E. Salkin & Julie A. Tappendorf

Published by the American Bar Association. Section of State and Local Government Law

KF 5300 .S63 2013

With more widespread use of social media in the workplace, it is imperative that attorneys in both the public and private sectors understand the opportunities it offers in the form of marketing and the dissemination of information and the challenges it presents in terms of ensuring the reliability of the information provided and of maintaining confidentiality where required.  Written for attorneys who work in the public sector, Social Media and Local Governments: Navigating the New Public Square explains the benefits and pitfalls that this ubiquitous technology can present. From its practical uses in the government context to legal questions, the authors cover all aspects of social media to allow government attorneys make informed decisions regarding the implementation of social media policies for its employees and the establishment and maintenance of its own online presence. This book is a must-read for any government lawyer exploring the use of social media for its own purposes.