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Managing Facebook in the Legal Profession

Today, CLE programs abound discussing the proper and ethical use of social media by attorneys.  In Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers (KF 320.I57 K46 2012), a recent addition to the law library’s collection, authors Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields discuss both basic and advanced features of Facebook and how these can be employed in the legal profession.  No matter how long you’ve been using Facebook (or even if you’ve never used Facebook), this text offers excellent discussion of the ethical implications of your Facebook choices.  Unlike many resources that might tell you to delete your Facebook account before looking for jobs, this text enthusiastically encourages the use of Facebook by attorneys, but in a mindful manner.

The chapters are arranged as progressive lessons, walking the reader through the process of setting up a Facebook account, managing one’s privacy and security settings, and building a profile.  Each lesson offers practical advice about what one’s choices will mean in terms of who can view or otherwise access your profile.  At less than 200 pages, this book is brimming with useful information (and will probably in fact only take you, as the title suggests, about an hour to peruse).

The following are a few highlights from the book:

  • General Principles of Facebook use (pp. 28-29): When setting up your account, assume Facebook intends to share more than you might intend and consequently “assume more people can see your Facebook activities than you think.”  This means you need to go through each privacy and security setting, understand what each does, and set them according to your comfort level.  With the frequent changes that occur in Facebook, however, you cannot “set and forget” – it is important to check your settings from time to time.
  • Security (p. 32): Security settings are discussed at length, but one particularly good piece of advice was to turn on secure browsing for your Facebook account; this helps keep your account safe when using public WiFi.
  • Privacy (p. 35): We are most often told to delete our Facebook accounts because of foolish things we may have posted in the past that potential employers would still be able to see; however, as the authors point out, there is now a feature on Facebook that allows you to limit the audience for individual posts.  Essentially you can alter how your profile appears to different people (i.e. Friends versus Public).  You can see how your profile appears to these groups by using the “View As” feature on your profile.
  • Pages versus Profiles (beginning at p. 61): Lesson 4 discusses Facebook pages.  If your intent is to create a Facebook account for your firm rather than yourself, Facebook now asks that you create a page rather than a profile.  This lesson offers suggestions for this type of account.
  • Advanced Topics (beginning at p. 137): Perhaps most helpful in this book are the advanced topics located at the back.  Where the lessons focus on setting up and managing a Facebook account, the advanced topics focus more on ethical and legal implications of Facebook accounts.  These topics include “Ethics” (pp. 137-47), “Separating Your Personal from Your Professional Presence” (pp. 149-52), “Facebook Apps” (pp. 153-57), “Litigation and Discovery” (pp. 159-61), and some final “Tips” (pp. 163-69).

Even if you’ve been using Facebook since its inception, this book is worth a read.  There’s no denying that social media has made its way into the legal profession, but the choices made in one’s Facebook account can have serious ethical and legal implications.  This is certainly not the only resource available discussing these issues, but for a quick read on the subject, check it out.

And while you’re at it, “like” the law library on Facebook!  At the beginning of the year I set a challenge that we would give away a $25 Starbucks gift card once we reach 100 likes.  We’re getting closer, but we can’t give it away until we make that goal, so like us (and if you already have, tell a friend!).
Source: Dennis Kennedy & Allison C. Shields, Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers (2012).

Lawyers Behaving Badly

With the final Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) of the year looming on the horizon, ethics may be at the forefront of your mind.  While the MPRE tests for knowledge of the Model Codes for Professional Responsibility and Judicial conduct, as well as common law principles related to attorney discipline, there are guaranteed to be a nearly infinite number of ethical quandaries that won’t make it onto the exam.  Fortunately, there are resources available to help law students and practitioners navigate these issues.

First, always start with the rules governing professional responsibility.  It is sound advice to familiarize yourself with the Rules of Professional Conduct in your jurisdiction.  The current version of Indiana’s rules can be found on the judiciary’s website.  In addition, attorney disciplinary opinions are available online at the Indiana Judiciary website, with coverage from 2004 to present.  Periodically, the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) publishes ethical advisory opinions.  This ethical guidance can be retrieved through the ISBA’s website.  For coverage of other jurisdictions, Bloomberg BNA and the ABA collaborate to produce the Lawyers Manual on Professional Conduct.  This online resource can be accessed by selecting “BNA Premier” from the Online Resources menu and choosing the “ABA/BNA Lawyers’ Manual on Professional Conduct” from the BNA “All Resources” list.

Next, keep abreast of changes – in both the legal field and society at large.  The advent of the Information Age, and its resulting technological advances, has added another layer of complexity in legal ethics.  Electronic discovery methods, and even simple email correspondence, can imperil the otherwise well-intended attorney.  Res Gestae, the journal of the Indiana Bar Association, includes a column in each issue devoted to ethics called “Ethics Curbstone.”  The law library keeps recent issues of this publication in the reference collection behind the circulation desk, shelved in the final row closest to the computer bank.  Res Gestae is a great current awareness resource for ethical concerns that are emerging or otherwise newsworthy.

Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend or colleague.  In each state, there is help available to attorneys and judges struggling with mental health and substance issues.  In Indiana, the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program (JLAP) provides a variety of services to members of the legal community trying to cope with these types of difficulties.

Remain informed by using the myriad resources and advice available concerning legal ethics.  Be diligent and thoughtful in your professional and personal conduct.  Take care of your mental and physical health.  Lastly, remember that when you are an attorney, or even an aspiring one, what happens in Vegas, doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas.

LawInfoChina upgrades Web Site

The Library subscribes to several databases of Chinese law. One of them is LawInfoChina, which is produced by the Peking University Legal Information Center. LawInfoChina  has  a variety of collections. Laws & Regulations contains laws, regulations, rules, judicial interpretations, local regulations and local rules in more than ninety subject areas. It includes all laws adopted by the National People’s Congress and the NPC Standing Committee and all regulations issued by the State Council from 1949 onward. Laws & Regulations also includes “important judicial interpretations that substantially influence legal practices and are recognized as an indispensable part of the original Chinese laws and regulations.” LawInfoChina includes a separate Case Law Database, which contains “typical judicial decisions approved and published by the Supreme People’s Court or the Supreme People’s Procuratorate.” These editorially enhanced cases are chosen “to reflect both current and predicted future trends in Chinese legal practice,” but the emphasis is on meeting the needs of companies doing business in China. Finally, there are both a Gazettes database (containing tables of contents of the official gazettes of various government agencies) and a database of Chinese Law Journals.

LawInfoChina has just updated it web site. It is now possible to search (or filter search results) by data facets, such as type of document, subject area, year of adoption, or any combination. The title/keyword search engine now also supports Boolean search syntax, allowing you to “and” and “or” search concepts, as well as search for phrases.

Of course, the single greatest value-added aspect of LawInfoChina is that all material is translated into English. However, those who speak or read Chinese should also keep in mind that the same platform supports a Chinese-language version of the database, ChinaLawInfo, which contains more material than its English-language counterpart. One nice feature is that it is possible to toggle back and forth between the two versions.

HeinOnline User Guides, Quick Reference Guides, and Other Training Materials

We all think of HeinOnline as a terrific source for PDF versions of law review articles. There’s good reason for this, since HeinOnline includes so many titles, and provides access to all of them all the way back to volume one. No other database provides PDF versions of so many articles, covering such a long period of time. Full Story »

Free Starbucks Gift Card!

Have you noticed that the Library has a new web site for research guides? Although we only recently began transitioning to this new site, there are already a number of new research guides available, and many more will follow. Take a look and let us know what you think.

To get you started, I invite you to look at the most recent guide, Foreign Law Basics. This research guide is intended to be a quick introduction to the most important sources, mostly electronic, that will help you no matter what country you are interested in.

And here’s a challenge. The first person to email me with correct answers to the following questions will receive a $10 gift card from Starbucks. Needless to say, all questions can be answered using electronic sources mentioned in Foreign Law Basics.

1) Which sections of the Austrian Civil Code deal with adoption?

2) When was the Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany most recently amended? Where can I find an English-language translation of the amending law?

3) What was the approximate population of Belgium in mid-2010?

Believe me, these questions are not difficult to answer. If you like Starbucks coffee, it will be worth your while to look through Foreign Law Basics and give it a shot. (No pun intended.)

Starbucks, Facebook, and the Law Library

Allow me to extend another hearty welcome, new and returning students!  For those of you who were not involved in yesterday’s law school orientation, you may have noticed that the law library is now on Facebook and Twitter.  You may be asking yourself, ‘why would I want to follow or “like” the law library’?  Through these profiles, the law library will keep you up to date on changes in library hours throughout the year, announcements of library events, and other interesting or fun tidbits we come across.

As an incentive to “like” us on Facebook, when our page reaches 100 likes, we will randomly select one Maurer Law student who has liked us to receive a $25 Starbucks gift card!

And…go!

Welcome New Students!

Welcome to the new 1L class, and congratulations on starting orientation today!  We hope that you have a wonderful law school experience, and at the Law Library will do everything that we can to make your time here fun and interesting.  The library is a place to study, learn, reflect, and prepare.  We hope that you will spend lots of time here, and if you have any questions we can help with, please don’t hesitate to ask any of the library staff.   We are excited about working with all our new students over the next three years. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook!

New Social Media for the Law Library!

The Law Library now has its own Facebook and Twitter accounts!  In addition to information, we will also be using these pages for fun.   Like us on Facebook and see historical photos of the Law Library or get a jump on useful legal resources.  Follow us on Twitter for important library announcements!  Both will also tie in with our YouTube channel, where a new video was just added.  In this one a Young Timmy is learns all about how helpful indexes can be with the help of an ever patient and condescending 1950’s narrator.  Go check these new pages out!

When is a Grey Mare not a Grey Mare? And Other Tidbits from English Legal History

A patron recently requested information about a 1726 English case involving an action for recovery of a wager. The parties were in agreement that the plaintiff’s “grey mare” outran the defendant’s “bay mare,” but the plaintiff (an “eminent distiller”) was nonsuited anyway because he could not prove that the “grey mare” in the race was the one originally matched. Apparently he pulled a switcheroo, and substituted a different horse with “a far better share of heels.” As more than 500 £ were wagered on each side, it is not surprising that the newspaper account of the case reported that “the dispute has been the subject of conversation for these two years past at most public meetings of gentlemen sportsmen.”

The patron wished to know whether there might be an official report of the decision, but unfortunately did not know the names of the parties or even the court in which the cause was heard. With only a hint that the court sat at Guildhall, we could surmise that it was the Lord Mayor’s Court (which still exists!), and at least some of that court’s decisions did find their way into the English Reports. But how to find the case without party names?

Fortunately, the English Reports, Full Reprint, is included in HeinOnline. This database permits the user to search for terms in the decision, such as “grey mare,” “bay mare,” and “wager.” Unfortunately, a search for these keywords retrieved nothing. Likewise a search in the Lexis English case law file containing decisions going back to 1561. So it appears that no report was made in any of the so-called nominative reports that comprised the ‘official’ world of case reporting in 18th century England.

Continuing on the subject of online reports of older English case law, those with a historical bent of mind might want to look at the proceedings of the Old Bailey, a free online database of English criminal cases spanning the period 1674-1913. This is an absolutely amazing collection of 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court, described as “[a] fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published.” Just for fun, I searched for cases involving grey mares, and in fact found 10 cases in which such horses were stolen. Perhaps one was the ringer used to dupe the “gentlemen sportsmen;” if so, it profited its seller no more than the “eminent distiller” who could not collect his gambling debt.

Perhaps it is fitting (and maybe even ironic) that the Old Bailey database is funded by the English National Lottery.

Fun with Gov Info: Popular Baby Names

Find out the most popular baby names of 2011 (courtesy of U.S. Social Security Administration).

You can search the popularity of names dating back to 1880. You can also look up popular names by birth year, decade, or state; popular names for twins; and popular names in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories.

H.T.: USA.gov

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