Cross-post: Social media rules applying to lawyers and judges

I wrote a post over on SCOTXblog titled “Judges friending lawyers on Facebook and social media: Florida’s clumsy overreaction.”

Lawyers are regulated by their local state bars, which impose ethical rules that are often formulated by committees.  That’s one reason the profession is so resistant to changes brought on my technology — the ethical rules are rooted in very traditional notions of how lawyers and clients should interact.

The Florida decision is technologically wrong about how social networks operate.  But, more importantly, it also exhibits a certain tone-deafness about what words like “friend” even mean online.

My recommendation is that legal ethicists steer away from crafting special “internet rules” for lawyers.  Ethics operate at a human level, not a technological one, and there is just too much danger of clumsy “internet rules” hurting both lawyers and clients by keeping lawyers confined to the yellow pages while purveyors of packaged pseudo-legal services dominate online.

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