ABA book addresses legal ethics and social media

The rapidly changing and challenging landscape of technology and social media is having a dramatic impact on the practice of law and the legal profession.

A new book from the American Bar Association, “Legal Ethics and Social Media: A Practitioner’s Handbook,” will assist lawyers in understanding these challenges and in navigating the often slippery slope of digital communications, such as Twitter, Facebook, and You Tube. The book, written by Jan L. Jacobowitz, lecturer in law at the University of Miami School of Law, and John G. Browning, civil litigator and shareholder in the Dallas firm Passman & Jones, is a project of the ABA Center for Professional Responsibility.

“Legal Ethics and Social Media” covers social media use from litigation of a case to attorney advertising and client relationships. It includes topics such as digital competence in investigating a case, advising clients and the effective and ethical use of social media for service of process, discovery and the investigation of jurors. The book also provides references to legal ethics advisory opinions and a table of cases that provides additional information and guidance.

Browning, whose range of law includes employment, intellectual property, products liability, professional liability, media law and negligence matters, said the book comes at a critical time because social media is affecting the legal system at a dizzying pace.

“It’s critical for lawyers to know where the ethical boundaries are drawn when using social media,” Browning said. “And given the new standard of tech competence to which lawyers are being held, ignoring or failing to heed the significance of social media for our profession is not an option.”

The authors believe that lawyers, judges, law students and other legal professionals will find “Legal Ethics and Social Media” an invaluable tool. The book provides an accessible question-and-answer format that allows for an easy-to-use handbook — to answer an occasional question or to engage in a social media immersion.

“Communication is a lawyer’s stock in trade so lawyers must learn to navigate the social media highway,” said Jacobowitz, who is also the director of the Professional Responsibility & Ethics Program at the University of Miami School of Law. “Our book provides a roadmap for lawyers — both the social media savvy and the uninitiated — to assist in ethically incorporating social media into the practice of law.”

“Legal Ethics and Social Media: A Practitioner’s Handbook” costs $79.95 and can be ordered by calling 800-285-2221 or online at shopaba.org.