The internet is making it easier and easier to find, share and acquire information—both useful and otherwise. Communities crop up around industries and passions, and the legal profession is no exception. JD Supra is one of the leading hubs of legal information for lawyers and business people who are looking for high quality advice and [...]
GJEL Blog » Legal Technology
There has been much controversy surrounding the American Bar Association’s decision to evaluate and revise its position on social media for lawyers. The ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has solicited guidance from dozens of lawyers across the country and has said repeatedly that any changes are not likely to be earth shattering. But views on both sides of this issue are strong and while some lawyers have been outspoken in their defense of social media, others have said that too much online interaction could cross important ethical borders. This week, the ABA released its initial proposal on the use of technology for client development, and for all intents and purposes, we’re looking at business as usual for lawyers and judges.
Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family members. But as a professional development tool, the purpose of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter is far less clear. So far, many lawyers and judges have opted to steer clear of the web when it comes to professional contacts, and the American Bar Association has even said that it plans to address the ethics of social media use for lawyers. Last week, the San Francisco Recorder tackled the subject in a profile of a number of Bay Area judges. Perhaps it wont come as a surprise that their opinions differed quite a bit.
There are certain procedures that car accident attorneys use to learn the full story of a collision. An investigator typically speaks to the drivers involved and eye witnesses, accident reconstruction experts depict the scene and how the accident took place, and the attorneys then begin settlement negotiations. While this procedure has proven effective, new high-tech automotive “black boxes” could change auto accident lawsuits by providing a snap shot into the seconds before an accident. The black boxes are modeled after technology already present in airplanes, but is much more controversial on the automotive level, as opponents claim they are unreliable, and an unnecessary infringement of personal freedom.
If you know about Avvo, you know that it is a ratings website for lawyers that rewards smart, experienced, and ethical attorneys with a high ranking for consumers to consider while looking for legal advice. If you’re not familiar with Avvo, pay attention, because the influential web startup is bound to have a major impact on how lawyers interact online, as the Internet becomes an even more essential part of everyday life. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend Avvo’s Avvocating conference in Orlando, which was packed with information sessions on the best practices of web marketing, the importance of Google local search, and the ethical questions that lawyers face online.
Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion about Avvo’s impact on the legal profession. Critics have said that Avvo’s rating system appears arbitrary and fluctuates for no reason. Others, like Jay Fleishman, have praised the web startup for its great web presence and growing community. I’m an unabashed fan of Avvo, both for its innovative platform and its clever discussion of web and legal issues on the Avvo Blog and NakedLaw. For these reasons, among others, I’m growing more and more excited for next week’s Avvocating conference in Orlando, Florida.
Cars seem destined for distracted driving. Though it’s essential to pay attention to the road and traffic signs, most cars come equipped with a navigation screen, complicated control panel, or at the very least, a radio. So driver safety technology has a lot to compete with. But the matter is different for bicyclists, who aren’t protected by a metal and glass shield and must always be aware of their surroundings. But that doesn’t mean technology can’t help reduce bicycle accident injuries. In honor of National Bike Month we’ve compiled a list of five of the most interesting technologies designed to improve bicycle safety. Take a look, and let us know of others in the comments section or on our Facebook page.
When people talk about technology related to distracted driving, they usually mean gadgets that make the roads safer by making distracted driving more difficult. But thanks to the tech “arms race” among car manufacturers, these companies have a economic interest in providing high-tech solutions to distracted driving laws, even if they don’t make you safer. So as we enter into the second annual Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight some of the most dangerous technologies designed to address distracted driving. Click through to take a look.
Before massive layoffs at the country’s major law firms, before major cuts to the funding of free legal aid clinics, and before before the meteoric rise of Google, consumers relied on lawyer referrals for legal representation. Once search engines took over, however, and we grew used to accessing the world from our desktops, consumers turned to the web. So we’ve compiled some information about the four major legal raters, their differences, and their main qualities.
Like drunk driving and wearing a seat belt, avoiding distracted driving is becoming more and more of a no brainer. The Department of Transportation has reported that there were 6,000 deaths and half a million injuries caused by distracted driving last year alone, making it the number one killer of teenagers. But as technology becomes more advanced, the temptation to text, email, or talk on the phone while driving becomes even more of a problem. In a major story for its April edition, Consumer Reports has targeted distracted driving, its major opponents, and listed ideas for what regular people can do to end it.
If you work in an office, the chances are that you’ve used social media at work before. Hopefully, you keep personal use of social media communities like Facebook and Twitter to a minimum during work hours. New reports have found that more than half of employers in the United States view social media use as so harmful to productivity that they’ve banned it altogether. Companies that have not taken this drastic step, however, have run in to a variety of problems related to social media use, which has led to embarrassment, terminations, and even costly lawsuits.
Over the past five years, Facebook has evolved from a scrappy web upstart to a worldwide phenomenon with more than 500 million members. Even outside the social sphere, Facebook has also become a force in professional communities, and was the subject of the year’s most engaging film, The Social Network. But when it comes to law, the jury is still out on Facebook, as state courts continue to debate whether information gathered on Facebook should be admissible during the discovery process leading up to a legal showdown.
There are two sides to the debate about whether state bar associations should enforce stricter regulations on attorney advertising. First, there’s the question of whether the courts should regulate what attorneys can say in print ads. At the center of this debate is the use of nick names, and client testimonials. On the other side, attorneys have been debating whether attorney social media use amounts to advertising and should therefore warrant special regulations. For both of these debates, authorities have recently issued encouraging decisions that indicate a less restrictive view toward advertising and social media.
The rise of social media, and the Internet as a whole, has fostered the ability to connect with old friends, professional acquaintances, and distant family members. It also creates the possibility for a whole new world of social media quandaries that could lead to massive lawsuits. Whether its Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, or Yelp, users of every major social media website have run into unique legal problems. And it doesn’t always end up pretty for the little guy. Below is a list of ten epic social media #Fails that have led to major lawsuits.
Most people outside the legal profession don’t know the incredible amount of work that goes in to a lawsuit before settlement negotiations or courtroom procedure begins. A major part of this process is discovery, defined by our legal dictionary as “devices that can be used by one party to obtain facts and information about the case from the other party in order to assist the party’s preparation for trial,” including depositions, written interrogatories, and the production of important documents. Discovery has always been a complicated process, but due to the relatively recent rise of computer domination, eDiscovery — which involves the production of information from technological sources — can be even trickier. We asked discovery expert Diane Barry to explain the complicated ethical elements of eDiscovery.
If I were a lawyer who had been sanctioned for unethical behavior, I’d probably try to avoid attracting attention to myself. But Florida attorney Joe Davis is taking a different approach, and has formally sued Avvo, the social media and information website for lawyers and consumers, for revealing that he had been sanctioned for professional misconduct. Needless to say, Avvo is not backing down since increasing transparency in the legal process is exactly what the pioneering website has set out to do.
The benefits of the internet are too numerous to count. The web has made information easily searchable, revolutionized the news industry, and boosted access to entertainment. But one of the unintended consequences of the online communities created by the Internet is the nasty remarks hastily employed by public and anonymous bloggers and commenters alike. It turns out that under the law, those comments can be considered more than a nuisance; they can be punishable by law.
I just sat in on Avvo’s webinar on “Ethical Issues in Online Advertising and Social Media” and wanted to share some thoughts. I’ve recently been fascinated by the intersection of communication and advertising, which has become increasingly interesting with the rise of social media and online marketing. Here on the GJEL blog, for example, we write about developments in distracted driving legislation, teen drivers, and other issues related to consumer safety because we have a deep interest and want a better market for consumers.
This Saturday night 17-year-old Oakland driver caused an fatal accident while under the influence of alcohol. The driver, whose name has not been released because he is a minor, was arrested on vehicular manslaughter charges for the death of 22-year-old Martin Contreras. He has been busted on DUI charges before, which carries a suspended license penalty of six months for a first-time offender in California. If California had stricter ignition-interlock laws, the accident could have been avoided.
Generally, I’m not a fan of efforts to reduce distracted driving among teens by scaring the crap out of them. There are all sorts of stats that clearly portray the dangers of distracted driving: last year, it was responsible for nearly 600,000 deaths; it is the number one killer of teenagers; and it’s just as dangerous as driving while drunk. But if teens today are a fraction as stubborn as I was as a teenager, listing statistics to kids won’t have a lasting effect. Instead, consider testing a distracted driving simulator on your teenager and let him or her be the judge.