I am reposting this article about Social Media Guidelines which I received from James Publishing last week. I like the form they suggest for clients to sign because I feel it prevents problems as our use of social media increases.
Social Media Guidelines for Your Clients
How do you keep clients from sabotaging their cases with their social media postings? The problem is that asking a client not to post anything that could damage his or her case is meaningless. It is extremely difficult, even for an attorney, to predict how the other side will attempt to distort and benefit from information that a client posts about his or her life. For a non-lawyer, the distinction between innocuous information and information that could severely harm the person’s case is impossible to discern.
As a consequence, trial attorneys Roger and Larry Booth have developed a written policy that they review with all new clients. Here, they share that policy with you in an excerpt from their book, Personal Injury Handbook.
“We review this form with all new clients and ask them to sign it. The document is part of an overall discussion with clients about the potential of social media to destroy their case. The value of having a client sign the document is that it reinforces in the client’s mind the importance of these rules and the fact that he or she has made a commitment to abide by them. In the unfortunate event that the case goes south because of something that the client posts on social media, in violation of the written policy, it is then easier for the attorney to extricate himself from the case or convince the client to accept a modest settlement.”
Sub Rosa Videos and Social Media Information Policy
It is common in personal injury cases for the attorneys on the other side to arrange to secretly take videos of our clients. The camera operators are very clever and will take selective moments in a person’s life which completely misrepresent and distort his/her medical situation.
Similarly, it is common in personal injury cases for the attorneys on the other side to look into your personal life on social media (including postings, photographs, tags, texts, emails, tweets, etc.) and distort and twist your information by claiming that your injuries are exaggerated.
Please follow the guidelines below to minimize the defense’s opportunity to damage your case.
1. Keep an eye out for video operators, sitting in a vehicle or elsewhere, taking videos or photographs with a hand-held video camera or cell phone.
2. Avoid engaging in any activities that the defense could distort or twist in order to claim that you are misrepresenting your medical situation.
3. If you, or your family, use any social media sites, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Caring Bridge, etc., you should immediately reset your profiles to the highest possible privacy settings. We can help in this regard if necessary.
4. Do not accept any friend requests from anyone you do not personally know.
5. Do not post anything about your case, your injuries, your personal thoughts, photographs or conversations with your attorneys on any social media site, or blog. The best practice, from this point forward, is not to post any information on social media websites.
6. Ethical rules concerning your lawsuit prohibit you and your attorney from removing, deleting, concealing or withholding any information you may have already posted.
7. If your close friends and family members post pictures or information about you, please make them aware of these guidelines and ask them to follow them.
8. As we advised, we will monitor your social media sites.
I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD THE FOREGOING, AND I HEREBY AGREE TO FOLLOW MY ATTORNEY’S ADVICE.
Dated :_________________ _________________________(Client)
About the Authors
Larry Booth, a member of the Inner Circle of Advocates and founder of Booth & Koskoff, has written hundreds of articles in various legal publications providing attorneys with practical guidance on the secrets to success in the personal injury field. Roger Booth, a California “Super Lawyer, has handled more than 20 cases that have resulted in verdicts or settlement in excess of $1,000,000. He is a frequent writer and speaker on personal injury practice and trial tactics.