Lawyers love social netorking sites such as Facebook and Linkedin because
they can be evidentiary gold mines. Most people don't think twice
about posting personal information on these sites without realizing who
may be viewing this information or how they may be using it.
An injured client who posts photos of herself crossing the finish line
at the La Jolla Half-Marathon can bet she's going to have some explaining
to do when those photos come up at her deposition. Are those photos fair
game in her injury lawsuit? Just as technology continues to evolve and
change the way we interact with each other, the law continues to change too.
The SD County Bar Association recently issued an ethics opinion cautioning
attorneys against using social netoworking sites for the purpose of gathering
information against opposing parties in lawsuits. It is important to note,
however, that the use of social networking to gather information is not
by itself an ethics violation, but how the attorney goes about doing so
may be a violation.
Specifically, attorneys cannot contact someone they know is represented
by another attorney, so sending a friend request to a represented person
violates attorney ethics. What about hiring an investigator to do? What
about if the other party is not yet represented because the lawsuit has
not yet been filed? Is it an outright lie to send a "friend"
request to someone for "un-friendly" purposes?
Most social networking sites permit users to place limits on who may view
your personal information. Use them!
You can read more about how lawyers use social networking sites here: