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In a recent article in Law.com’s Law Technology News section, Robert J. Ambroji discussed Social Media and Ethics for those of us in law.

Ethics and social media will be front and center at the American Bar Association’s annual meeting this month in its hometown, Chicago. The ABA’s House of Delegates — its governing body — will consider the recommendations of the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, which has proposed revisions to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to address changes in technology.

The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20, reminds us that the same old ethical rules apply to Social Media.

Do not betray client confidence when you tweet or blog, even if you think you are being discreet. as Illinois assistant public defender Kristine Ann Peshek found out when her license was suspended for 60 days when she blogged about her clients.  Peshek thought she was blogging anonymously but it was determined that she had provided enough specific information on her clients that they could be identified.

Do not give out legal advice, this could be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship.  For us paralegals, this could be practicing law without a license.

Do not solicit clients.  Targeting a specific person to be a client is not allowed, but participating in an online forum of any kind is permitted.

ABA Model Rule 7.2 says, “A lawyer shall not give anything of value to a person for recommending the lawyer’s services.” Does this mean you cannot provide an endorsement of a colleague on sites such as LinkedIn or Avvo? Absolutely not, provided nothing of value is exchanged.  But can you promise to provide an endorsement if the other attorney promises to endorse you in return?  That quid pro quo could be seen as an exchange of value.

As Mr. Ambroji says in his article, it all comes down to common sense.  If you wouldn’t talk about your client’s case with strangers outside of your office, why would you post it online?  If you wouldn’t give out legal advice at your neighbor’s party, why would you do it online?

To read more of the article written by Mr. Ambroji, you can find it here.  I would love to hear my fellow paralegals thoughts on Ethics and Social Media too.

 

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I have been reading the articles and comments on the recent case in which the rival lawyer Thomas Gooch accused Dmitry N. Feofanov of exploiting his assistant Daniella Atencia‘s assets to “draw the attention of the jury away from the relevant proceedings.” Seems Ms. Atencia is Mr. Feofanov’s wife and he is not happy with the opposing attorney’s comments and antics.

Dmitry Feofanov and Daniella Atencia

 

As a woman, the comments made by some are quite hurtful to Ms. Atencia.  To think that a beautiful woman who happens to be a paralegal, should not assist her attorney in court, is simply ludicrous.  Distracting to the jury? Really? How so?  Simply because she has large breasts?  There is no mention, in what I have read, that says that Ms. Atencia was wearing inappropriate clothing in the courtroom, in fact from the picture here, it looks as if she is professionally dressed.  Does Mr. Gooch think that jurors are really going to be so distracted and enamored with Ms. Atencia’s large breasts that they will disregard the law and facts before them and issue a verdict in favor of Mr. Feofanov?  I highly doubt it and I would think the jurors would be a bit upset with Mr. Gooch for thinking that they are so shallow and impressionable.

To make matters worse, Mr. Feofanov is getting requests for pictures of his wife’s cleavage.

As a paralegal, what do you think of the motion that Mr. Gooch has filed?  I would be very interested to hear from my fellow paralegals, male and female on this one.

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