There is an excellent New York Times article by the paper's National Legal Correspondent, John Schwartz, that discusses some examples where lawyers have been sanctioned for their Facebook posts, blogs, and tweets. Lawyers who utilize social media must realize that the Code of Professional Responsibility that every member of the Bar must follow in their every day interactions with prospective clients, clients, opposing counsel, judges, etc...is also in effect in cyberspace. Even though the First Amendment protects most speech, a person still can't falsely yell fire in a public area. Attorneys as officers of the court have additional responsibilities. The bottom line is that every lawyer should thoroughly read their prospective posts, blogs, or tweets before they are published in cyberspace. Before I publish a post, I ask myself:
1) Will my post add value to an area of discussion?
2) Does my post violate the Code of Professional Responsibility?
If my post can add value to a discussion and does not violate the Code of Professional Responsibility I publish my post. If my thoughts do not add value to an area of discussion or if I think they may violate the Code of Professional Responsibility I do not make the post. In general, I try to avoid personal attacks on others. I try to live by, blog by, tweet by, and post by this adage that my late Grandfather instilled upon me: "Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt."
Copyright 2009 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.