Sunday, September 13, 2009

The New York Times on Blogging Lawyers

John Schwartz has an interesting piece in today's New York Times about lawyers getting in trouble with blog (or other social media) posts that violate their ethical canons. The article is here.

Schwartz cites the example of Sean Conway, a Florida attorney who referred on a blog to a local judge as "Evil" and an "Unfair Witch."

The Florida Supreme Court reviewed the bar complaint against Conway to determine whether there were First Amendment implications; the Florida ACLU argued, on Conway's behalf, that his posting was protected speech. Ultimately the Florida Supreme Court affirmed a reprimand of Conway which included a $1,200 fine.

Judges have gotten into trouble, as well. Judge Alex Kozinski (the Chief of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit) was criticized by a three-judge panel for off-color remarks that were accessible on his family’s Web server.
Schwartz quotes Stephen Gillers, from NYU Law School, for a generational explanation of evolving attitudes among lawyers about the use of the internet and online forums to express ideas and opinions:
"'Twenty-somethings have a much-reduced sense of personal privacy,' Professor Gillers said. Younger lawyers are, predictably, more comfortable with the media than their older colleagues, according to a recent survey for LexisNexis, the legal database company: 86 percent of lawyers ages 25 to 35 are members of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and MySpace, as opposed to 66 percent of those over 46."