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Indiana State Bar Association finds many using social media

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Results of the Indiana State Bar Association’s social media survey are in, and they show what many lawyers already know: social media is becoming a larger part of daily life.

About 2,000 people – roughly 20 percent of members – responded to the ISBA survey, with 500 of them stating that they are using social media more often and becoming more comfortable with it.

The survey included several questions about how members use social media. Listing eight social media platforms – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, Foursquare, Google+ and blogs – the survey asked members to note which social media platforms they used and for what purpose. Not all members noted how they use all social media. The majority of survey respondents reported preferring Facebook for personal use and LinkedIn for professional use. Of the 1,038 people who responded about Twitter, 26.2 percent reported having a personal Twitter account. Of those who responded about YouTube, 743 reported using YouTube for personal use. The majority of respondents said they were not familiar with the social media platform Foursquare, which allows users to check-in virtually at locations.

Séamus Boyce, an attorney for Church Church Hittle and Antrim who chairs the state bar’s public relations committee, said he was pleased to see that nearly 70 percent of survey respondents reported using social media to some extent.

“It’s pretty clear that social media has become an important issue in just a typical Indiana lawyer’s life, and I think the state bar thinks that’s a trend that’s going to continue,” he said.

New frontiers

Some cautionary tales exist about how not to use social media. Lawyers may remember that earlier this year, an Indiana deputy attorney general was fired after making inflammatory comments on Twitter. And with nearly 43 percent of ISBA survey respondents saying their firm has no policies about social media use, attorneys may be on their own when it comes to figuring out what to say – and what not to say – on social media platforms.

wilson-seth-mug.jpg Wilson

Seth Wilson, an attorney with Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons, said attorneys would be wise to think about the large audience social networks have. As assistant director of the International Legal Technical Standards Organization, he has researched ethical concerns associated with technology use.

“Use your head. If your clients have given you their informed consent to broadcast their news to the world, and you’ve got that in writing, you might be OK. But, just use your head – the biggest thing is common sense,” he said.

Wilson said attorneys need to be cautious about accidentally disclosing client information on social media platforms and making statements that could be construed as advertising.

“It’s a rule of reasonableness, but part of it is, hey, I’m informing the world of what I do and it can’t be tied back to a particular client, I’m just commenting about my work,” he said. But if an attorney posts on Facebook that he just left a hearing, that statement could potentially be construed as saying too much.

“The biggest question is – do I want to be a test case for making that comment and finding out what happens?”

Boyce has a Twitter account – @SchoolCounsel, which he uses to post about legal issues in education. “We don’t have any formal policy – it’s not discouraged. I think that is our policy,” he said. “Being chair of the PR committee, I felt like I had to at least utilize it.”

Policy trends

seamus-boyce-mug.jpg Boyce

Boyce said he anticipates a decrease in the number of firms without social media policies. Developing policies, Wilson said, may help firms manage their own reputations online and help keep attorneys out of trouble.

“As our world continues to grow connected, the lines between what’s firm, what’s personal and what’s private life continue to blur, so I think just having some clear guidelines for that can help the firm establish that what we’re doing – what that attorney is doing – is reasonable,” Wilson said.

The ISBA is already ahead of the curve nationally, Boyce believes, in its understanding and use of social media. It has an interactive Facebook page and features on its website online discussion groups for members. Boyce said the PR committee will work with the bar’s other committees to explore how social media could be used. And the committee recently held its first Continuing Legal Education seminar on the topic of social media, bringing in a representative from the American Bar Association to present on the topic.

Whether Facebook and Twitter will emerge as a successful marketing tool for law firms remains to be seen, but Wilson wonders how effective such marketing strategies would be.

“What you find as a lawyer looking at Twitter is other lawyers, and I’m not always in the market to go hire another lawyer,” he said. •

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  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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