Category: Social Media

PA Lawyers Who Made the 6th Annual ABA Journal Blawg 100 List

Thousands of law-related blogs vie for attention from peers and prospects.  Only 100 make the coveted ABA  list each year.  Congratulations to those from PA.  To achieve this level of recognition  requires consistent effort and dedication.  The payoff is a decided elevation in name recognition.  Does it pay off in clients?  Let’s hear from those of you who’ve been nominated. 

How Appealing

As Nicholas Wagoner from Circuit Splits points out, Howard Bashman not only continues to churn out links on this appellate news-watch blog but also points readers to high-quality reporting on the subject. Bashman, practicing out of Willow Grove, Pa., also sends readers directly to federal and state court opinions so they can brush up on the latest appellate news from original sources.

Litigation & Trial

It’s a close call, but this blog from Philadelphia plaintiffs-side tort lawyer Max Kennerly is more about civil litigation and being a trial lawyer than tort law per se. Lengthy posts dig deeper than the mainstream media into the cases of the day—usually tort cases. But other posts cover First Amendment topics, law practice topics and legal news of import in Pennsylvania.


Philly Law Blog

Simple Justice’s Scott Greenfield calls Jordan Rushie and Leo Mulvihill “two kid lawyers with moxie, a sense of humor and a serious focus on what it means to start out in the practice of law.” These relatively new lawyers joined forces early this year to blog and practice in their own small shop. In posts, they (mostly Rushie) log the unwritten rules they are gradually learning from experience and other practitioners about trial practice and finding clients.



You’ve got a few more months until taxes are due, but you can read Taxgirl year-round. Philadelphian Kelly Phillips Erb blogs about taxes for Forbes, and it’s not just a personal finance blog; she also reports on political wrangling over tax legislation and tax-related news from the media. If you want to know about the tax woes of Prince and Michael Vick, Taxgirl’s your girl.


Tort Talk

Daniel E. Cummins, a frequent contributor to Pennsylvania Law Weekly, is an insurance defense attorney in Scranton, Pa. Tort Talk provides in-depth analysis of recent Pennsylvania tort cases and notes CLE events and national tort reform efforts.


You can view the list of all the nominated blogs here, and then click on the provided link to vote for ones  you like best.  Good luck to our PA bloggers.

More on Social Media and Privacy Legislation

While the connection of the phrase social media with the concept of privacy may seem to be an oxymoron, there are some fundamental constitutional principles which cement them together.   Think about free speech, freedom of association, and freedom from self-incrimination.

In my last post entitled “Keep Your Nose Out of Employee Posts”  I mentioned the passage of new legislation in California designed to protect employee privacy rights regarding their social media accounts.  In today’s ABA Law News Now article entitled “Site Unseen: Schools, Bosses Barred from Eyeing Students’, Workers’ Social Media,”  they discuss similar legislation in Delaware, Maryland and Illinois.  A comment posted to this discussion adds that The Canadian Supreme Court ruled recently that employers have no right to look at an employees internet history as it reveals too much about an individual”, and provides a link to an article about it. 

Mostly, the egregious conduct legislation is attempting to stop is the practice employed by schools and employers which compel employees and students to disclose their private passwords, thereby providing access to personal information which is not otherwise publicly available.  At some schools, students are even forced to install software which essentially logs everything they type.

Keep Your Nose Out of Employee Posts

Social Media is an evolving medium, as are the ethics and laws surrounding it.  Take a look at new legislation in California, the leader in freedoms and safeguards for employees, to see where things are headed.  Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed two privacy laws protecting employees and students from bosses and universities wanting to snoop on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts, on September 27, 2012.

You can read the news article on CNet News.

Who Owns the Social Media Account?

We know that much of the world of social media is like the Wild West of yore.  Eventually laws were developed which tamed the west.  We’re waiting for lawsuits, current and future, to wind their way into and through the courts to tame this new frontier.  Until that happens, there’s no telling what complexities and conflicts will arise, and how it will resolve.  Beware, it’s a dangerous landscape without forethought.

My partner, Jennifer Ellis, is widely known for her expertise regarding social media use in the practice of law, social media marketing, and the intersection of technology and ethics for lawyers.  As a result, our firm does a considerable amount of consulting work related to all facets of social media.  We both monitor a great number of news sources to try to stay on top of this topic.  And we both blog and prevent seminars on this topic.

One source of information I read regularly is HR Hero.  They cover a myriad of human resource-related topics.  This is yet another business management area that remains fluid due to federal, state and sometimes local regulatory changes.  It’s important to stay on top of this in order to avoid liability.  A recent article entitled “Social Media Ownership: A Look at Three Cases” caught my attention because it reports on recent cases which touch both areas.

In Sasqua Group, Inc. v. Courtney, a 2010 New York district court case , the court decision makes it very difficult to protect client lists and other lists such as Facebook friends, as trade secrets.  Marketing professionals have long advised that the most valuable pieces of intellectual property a firm or company can develop are well-maintained marketing-related lists.  Clients.  Prospects.  Industry CEOs. All sorts of  lists.  But now that it’s so easy to develop sophisticated lists utilizing readily available tools and the internet, it’s hard to make a case that a list rises to the level of a protected trade secret.  At least according to this case.

In Eagle v. Morgan, pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the court will rule on a wide number of issues related to ownership of a LinkedIn page and its connections.  Does the company own the page, or the individual who establishes it?  If the company sells and the individual doesn’t work for the new company, can the new owner take the page over and continue to use it?  Was that part of the sale?

In PhoneDog v. Kravitz, which is pending in the Northern District of California, the court will be wrestling with the concept of putting a price tag on Twitter followers.  A proposed $2.50 per, according to the plaintiff.  With 17,000 followers at issue, a hefty $340,000 in damages is at stake.  Certainly not chump change.

These issues are just the tip of the iceberg.  They are important considerations for both your firm, as well as for your clients.  Certainly the evolving case law will take time to clarify and tame this new frontier.  But in the meanwhile, neither you nor your clients can afford to ignore or avoid the most significant paradigm shift in communications in decades.  So it’s important that you ensure your firm has a well-written computer, internet and social media use policy in place at your firm.  The last thing you want is to wind up becoming the plaintiff or defendant in the next encountered conflict over who owns what.

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