The Impact of Online Social Networking on the Legal Profession and Practice

Over 90 per cent of respondents stated that there is a need for bar associations, societies, and councils, or, alternatively, for the to construe guidelines regarding the use of online social networking sites within the legal profession and practice.80 per cent of respondents stated that there is a need for ethical/professional codes and standards to be adapted to online social interactions affecting the legal profession and practice, as they cannot be adequately applied in their current form.95 per cent of respondents thought that lawyers, judges, and law students could benefit from a training course discussing guidelines for the use of online social networking within the legal profession and practice.Over 75 per cent of respondents considered the advantages of online social networking to outweigh its disadvantages.85 per cent of respondents thought that law students should be informed by their law schools as to the potential risks and disadvantages associated with the use of online social networking within the legal profession.Only 15 per cent of respondents felt that lawyers’ use of online social networks negatively affects the public’s confidence in the integrity and professionalism of the legal profession, while almost 40 per cent of respondents felt that judges’ use of online social networks negatively affects the public’s confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, thereby undermining judicial independence.Nearly 95 per cent of respondents from jurisdictions containing a jury system thought that, in addition to routine instructions, jurors should receive specific instructions limiting their online communications and use of online social networking sites.Over 85 per cent of respondents deemed it acceptable for lawyers to access and use the information found on the online social networking profiles of the parties in a case, which forms part of the public domain, as evidence in proceedings.While a majority of respondents found it unacceptable for lawyers, judges, and jurors to post updates about proceedings (by posting ‘status updates’, ‘tweeting’, blogging, etc) on online social networks while a matter is pending before the courts strictly for informational purposes, the majority deemed the conduct acceptable for journalists.The vast majority of respondents from jurisdictions comprising a jury system found it unacceptable for jurors to post comments or opinions about the judges, lawyers, parties, and/or cases which they are observing on online social networking sites.Over 90 per cent of respondents considered it unacceptable for lawyers and judges to post comments or opinions about fellow lawyers, judges, parties, or cases in progress on online social networks.Almost 70 per cent of respondents felt that it is acceptable for lawyers and judges to have each other as contacts on onlineOver 90 per cent of respondents found that online social networking presents a new set of challenges for the legal profession
‘It is not about rules for the passing hour, but principles for an expanding future’
– Justice Benjamin N Cardozo, The Nature of the Judicial Process

 

 

The IBA is pleased to announce the release of the IBA International Principles on Social Media Conduct for the Legal Profession.

 

Download the full report on THE IMPACT OF ONLINE SOCIAL NETWORKING ON THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND PRACTICE (pdf)

 

A constant challenge for legal ethics education is to keep pace with new challenges facing the global legal profession. This is particularly true in the 21st century, as rapid changes in technology and modes of communication and networking create new questions for legal professional ethics. Legal education has a central role to play in providing guidance to lawyers and judges on how to navigate the online world of social media in a manner that is consistent with legal professional ethics...read more 

An article by Anurag Bana

 

Information Technology is the new ice-age and legal professionals cannot ignore the impacts of project management techniques or social media drivers....read more

 

An article by Debashish Goswami     

 

 

The IBA Law Firm Management Committee together with the IBA Technology Law Committee and the IBA Young Lawyers’ Committee presented the session ‘Business development comme il faut or how social media and new technologies can help you step up your game’ at the IBA Annual Conference in Vienna.Read more about the session in Lost in a Digital Paradise (Source: IBA Daily News, 08 October 2015, page 3)

 

 

The Bar Issues Commission presented the session ‘Character machination’: 140 intangible characters can have tangible professional consequences testing the very character, integrity and independence of the legal profession at the IBA Annual Conference in Tokyo. Read more about the session in No Selfies in the Courtroom (IBA Daily News, 23 October 2014, page 7).

 

In March 2011, the International Bar Association (IBA)’s Legal Projects Team took up an important global initiative to examine the presence and role of online social networking within the legal profession and practice. As part of the initiative, a benchmark survey entitled ‘The Impact of Online Social Networking on the Legal Profession and Practice’ was drafted and sent to all of the IBA member bar organisations around the world.

The survey represents a first attempt to shed light on the above issues on an international scale. The IBA Legal Projects Team felt that the IBA was best placed to undertake a study of this magnitude, as it currently includes over 45,000 individual lawyers and over 200 bar associations and law societies spanning all continents worldwide. In this way, it can fairly be said to be truly representative of the international legal profession. READ MORE (pdf)

Objectives

  1. to consider the impact of online social networking on the legal profession and practice;
  2. to analyse whether there is a need for bar associations, societies and councils to come together to address this global issue and develop guidelines regarding the use of online social networking within the legal profession and practice;
  3. to ascertain whether there is a need for the IBA to work with member bar associations, societies, and councils to construe guidelines and toolkits regarding the use of online social networking within the legal profession and practice. 

 

Facing Online Social Media, The In-House Perspective, January 2011

The Court of Public Opinion_#TwitterandtheEnglishBar


 

Law Society of South Africa Introduction to Social Media Guidelines  

This guideline has been compiled for the Law Society of South Africa primarily as a tool to assist attorneys in considering the use of social media. Read more


ABA: Judge's Use of Electronic Social Networking Media

A judge may participate in electronic social networking, but as with all social relationships and contacts, a judge must comply with relevant provisions of the Code of Judicial Conduct and avoid any conduct that would undermine the judge’s independence, integrity, or impartiality, or create an appearance of impropriety. Read more


Jail term for juror guilty of Facebook-chat with accused

This is the first ever prosecution of this kind in the world. A juror was sentenced to 8 months jail for ‘friending’ and ‘chatting’ with the accused over Facebook, while jury deliberations were still underway.  As a result the jury were discharged, causing the collapse of the 10-week trial, involving 500 witnesses and £6M in legal fees. The juror was found guilty of contempt of court. Read more


Judge catches lawyer in Facebook lie

A state court judge in Texas discovered that a lawyer who had asked for a continuance of trial due to a death in her family had posted pictures and status updates about ‘drinking, going out and partying’ during her week off. Read more


Courts order claimants to provide Facebook passwords to defendants

In personal injury actions, US and Canadian courts routinely order plaintiffs to allow defendant’s access to their private Facebook and Myspace pages – both current and historical – and deleted pages.  Defendants must merely establish that the sites are likely to contain information relevant to the defence case. Read more


Would-be rioters sentenced to 4-years imprisonment for Facebook page

During the August 2011 London riots, Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe created Facebook pages inciting riots in their home towns.  Within hours the pages were shut down and no rioting eventuated.  The Court of Appeal  upheld their 4-year imprisonment sentences. They were 21 and 22 with no significant criminal record. Read more

Watch interview with Anurag Bana, Senior Staff Lawyer of the IBA Legal Projects Team, and Mark Stephens CBE, media law specialist and Vice-Chair of the IBA Art, Cultural Institutions and Heritage Law Committee, on the survey and its findings.

Law.com
Judges Propose Fines to Keep Jurors Off Social Media
18/05/2016

Times Live
Facebook judge in breach of judicial code of conduct: lawyer
18/05/2016

Bloomberg Legal
California Jurors May Face Fines for Social Media Use
18/05/2016

The Wall Street Journal 
Some Judges ‘Using Social Media Badly
01/04/2016

The Lawerist.com
Why Are Lawyers and Judges Still Tweeting About Trial?
11/03/2016

The Times of India
07/08/2015
Robinson+Cole
The National Law Review
Australasian Lawyer
Prosecutors to Facebook screen potential jurors
03/06/2015
For previous news, please visit our news archive

For previous news, please visit our news archive.