If the lawyer has a big mouth or loose fingers, take away his keyboard.
That's the conclusion I draw from this Wall Street Journal Law Blog entry on the hazards, to the lawyer and to the client, of blogging by attorneys. The article includes a couple of horror stories, real and potential, such as the patent attorney who got his client and himself sued for defamation once his anonymity was stripped away, and an attorney whose blog about a high-profile case was being read by a potential juror. (Had the juror been dishonest and been admitted to the panel, years of work and many thousands of dollars might have gone down the drain when that fact came to light on someone's motion for a new trial.)
I'm a lawyer, and I blog. Though I prefer to blog about other lawyers' problems, sometimes I do write about my own. Generally I try to wait until the case is resolved before mentioning anything about it. If I break that rule, well I'm pretty good with google and know what sorts of mistakes trap people on the internet. I've burned witnesses with their own stupid internet writings badly enough to appreciate the danger. There's nothing in the world like the feeling of handing an expert witness a copy of the libelous statements he wrote about my own client on the web, marked as a deposition exhibit.
I change names radically. I move cities and towns. I'm deliberately vague about anything that could lead to my client's identity. I change facts if necessary, while preserving the point of whatever I wanted to post about. And my clients are pretty anonymous. Insurance companies that don't need names, manufacturers whose names and products need not be identified, or generic people involved in very generic situations. John Doe and Jane Roe.
And yet I'm still stupid to do it.
Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White
- A Word From Our Sponsor - May 8th, 2013
- Lesson Plan And Syllabus For Second Semester Seniors, Princeton High School - May 3rd, 2013
- A Day Reading Popehat Is Like A Day At The Farm. Every Post Is A Banquet! Every Amazon Purchase A Fortune! Every Comment Thread A Parade! I Love Popehat! - May 2nd, 2013
- I Demand A Senate Investigating Committee - April 27th, 2013
- Be Aware That You Have Threatened, Tried To Blackmail And Accused Our Company Of SCAM With Your E-mail! - April 26th, 2013