Over the past two months I have been presenting at the Kentucky Bar Association’s Kentucky Law Update on the topic of social media and how to use it for marketing and investigation in legal practice.  Followed by my presentation comes the Ethics course related to ethical use of Social Networking Sites.

During those sessions I’ve learned a lot about how tempting social networking sites are for unethical use and am relieved to hear bright presenters talk about good ways to participate in social networking sites appropriately.

I’m impressed by Kentucky’s “Common Sense” approach to  ethics.  “If it feels wrong, it probably is.”  However, not everyone can operate under those broad types of guidelines and thus the official rules are evolving and ethics sanctions related to social media are becoming more prevalent.  The dangers are many.  Mistrials are occurring and  even judges are crossing lines they shouldn’t.

This article on LLRX.com provides a good collection of the consequences of Pretexting for investigative purposes and the impact in the social media landscape.   Law firms are beginning to establish Social Media Policies and so are corporations.   This Law Librarian post provides a great overview of recent survey results from the Society for Corporate Compliance and Ethics.  The conclusion I draw from a quick review is that corporate employees and legal staff will soon see that expectations related to their off-the-clock online activities will be subject to corporate policies.  As companies try to protect themselves from the consequences of intentional or unintentional inappropriate activities their policies will address personal time activities related to the corporation.  The overall message, be careful what you post online, it can be found and consequences exist.

Constance Ard October 30, 2009