When asked how he felt on his death bed, the English actor Edmund Kean (1787-1833) supposedly remarked: “Dying is easy; comedy is hard.” Kean wasn’t alone. Comedy also is tough for lawyers. Take the lawyer below, for example. Sure, he won the case, but his comedy stylings didn’t have ’em rolling in the aisles:
Comedy isn’t the only thing lawyers have trouble with; lawyers also trip up on social media. First, there are the ethical minimums. Lawyers can stumble on these in multiple ways:
- Posing as a satisfied client, and raving about your own work.
- Responding publicly to a bad “review” by a real client, by disclosing that client’s confidential information.
- Accusing judges and bar administrators of corruption in a blog.
- Identifying expertise and specialization in an on-line profile in a manner prohibited by the applicable rules of professional responsibility.
Indeed, the topic appears so perilous that the ABA is selling a book devoted entirely to how to do “Linked In” right.
Beyond ethical minimums, a thoughtful lawyer should give some care to what a client might think about his remarks, posted for all the world to see. Calling a firm client a perjurer, for example, via Twitter, might not be the best business development tool. We won’t name names here; but trust us, we’ve seen it happen (happily, at another firm). After all, while some of us are fortunate enough to have an expense account for “business development,” we’ve never heard of a firm willingly financing partners for their “business prevention” activities.
Come to think of it, maybe this blog wasn’t the best idea ever . . . .