Tag Archives: Twitter


Disclaimer:  This is a State Bar of California Opinion, and I’m Vice-Chair of the Council of California State Bar Sections (CSBS).  I want to remind you, “This blog site is published by and reflects the personal views of Perry L. Segal, in his individual capacity.  Any views expressed herein have not been adopted by the State Bar of California’s Board of Trustees or overall membership, nor are they to be construed as representing the position of the State Bar of California.”

To put it simply, the premise of CAL 2016-196 is to address when:  1) A blog post becomes a “communication”, as defined under the RPC and the State Bar Act, and 2) If it is deemed a communication, is it “attorney advertising”?

First of all, what constitutes a blog (or, as I prefer to call legal blogs, a “blawg”)?  Hmmm.  Well, if you call it a blawg, that’s probably a big hint that it’ll be legal in nature, but that’s not really what I’m getting at here.  Are your scribbles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram “blogging”, for the purposes of this opinion?

You bet (if those scribbles are legal in nature and/or purport to advertise your services).  You may not be aware of it, but products like Twitter are referred to as “micro-blogs”.

I think the continuing problem with a lot of these opinions is that they cause people to lose their minds worrying about them as if they’re something new.  The reality is, technically, a blog post is no different than if it were an article in a magazine that had a little blurb at the end that includes your contact information.  You’ll be subject to regulation for attorney advertising (California’s Rule of Professional Conduct, rule 1-400 – Advertising & Solicitation).

The real differences?

  • Someone has to subscribe to the magazine, receive it for free or pick it up in the dentist’s office office or a friend’s home.  However, if your blog is public, you need to understand, that means public; available to anyone, anywhere in the world at any time who has access to the internet.
  • The jurisdiction in which someone reads it may not authorize attorney blogging.

I bet many of you see where I’m going with the second point.  Could this trigger an accusation of improper advertising?  What about an in-depth article including opinion on a particular law?  Could that be unauthorized practice of law?

Yes and yes.  So what do you do?  For starters, click on the link above and read the opinion.  It’s only eight pages, and you’ll quickly see that a lot of it triggers opinions you’ve seen before, such as CAL 2012-186.  Two, disclaim, Disclaim, DISCLAIM.  Many a problem is eliminated if you simply inform your readers of your audience.

Of course, you can’t do that on Twitter.  So you might link to your disclaimer, or state briefly, “All opinions are my own.”

Oh, and there’s this last bugaboo:  You must be able to reproduce each and every post you’ve made for the past two years (while you’re gasping, keep in mind, it’s three years in New York).

A Lie Can Travel Half Way Around the World…

MP900227508…while the truth is about 22 minutes behind…

The original quote, by Mark Twain, is "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes."

Not true anymore, in this era of Social Media.

The original title I considered for this post was, "Will Social Media End Lying?"  The problem is, I have the ready answer. No.  The better question is, will it change lying as we know it?  Yes, and it's already having that effect.  Unfortunately, there's still a huge contingent out there who didn't get the memo.  Yet.

This process was well illustrated during the recent political conventions.  The cycle between one of our major politicians lying, the lie being refuted (in this particular example, via Twitter), then the campaign issuing a "correction" was less than 30 minutes.

This sure ain't the old days.  That would be circa 2008…

That's why to me, the question is, "Will Social Media…" as opposed to, "Has Social Media…".  Perhaps there'll be a little more truth in politics.

Now that's change I can believe in…

Calbar’s LPMT Section is Now on Twitter & Facebook @calbarlpmt

LPMT SealThis is a bit of a coup for us, folks.  Only a select few of the State Bar of California’s Executive Committees have been awarded proprietary social media accounts, and LPMT is fortunate to be one of them.  So, if you’d like access to another source of up-to-date news and information about Law Practice Management and Technology – directly from your representatives at the California Bar – please ‘like’ us on Facebook and/or ‘follow’ us on Twitter.

You don’t need to be a member of LPMT – or even a member of the Bar!  All are welcome, so we encourage you to join us and take a peek at our offerings as we’re adding new benefits all of the time.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right…and Girls Around Me


Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain't right…

Stealers Wheel

At many of my presentations, I say, "Finally, I'm able to exploit my cynicism and paranoia as an excellent career choice!"  I did one such presentation at LACBA Tax Night a couple of weeks back with my LPMT colleague, Gideon Grunfeld.  We have some fun with the subject matter by playing the attorney version of good cop/bad cop.  I terrify the attendees just a bit, then Gideon illustrates why they shouldn't go overboard with worry.

He's right, of course.  There's just one problem.  So am I.  I'm proud of my paranoia; it's what my clients expect of me.  Heck; someone has to play Chicken Little and accurately assess the risk.  After all, sometimes, the sky really is falling!  What's the most important determining factor?  Context.  A product or service can be of benefit and detriment at the same time.

Gideon used the example of accidentally locking his keys in his car.  He didn't have the availability of one of those, call-us-and-we-unlock-the-door-remotely services, so he had to have someone respond.  When he was ready to provide the location, he was told, "That's ok, you left your cell phone on in the vehicle and we know exactly where your car is."  File that under, benefit.

Take a look at this article on the short-lived app, Girls Around Me.  I bet several of you who thought I was over the top when I advised major caution in revealing your constant whereabouts on Twitter, Foursquare and/or Facebook, might think differently now.  File that under, detriment.

As to what to worry about – and how much – that's up to you; as individuals, technologists, and especially, attorneys.

Three Things Matter in #Cyberspace: Location, Location, Location!

(The video feed that accompanies this post isn't resolving properly on some systems. Here's a direct link if you'd like to launch it, manually)

This seemed like an appropriate subject to cover today, in light of Google's new privacy policies kicking-in in a few hours…

First off, I've never really understood the obsession some people have with disclosing trivial details about themselves. Of course, that opens a can of worms, doesn't it? One person's trivia is another person's 'absolutely-positively-need-to-know-this-very-minute!' piece of information, after all. Who am I to judge? Disclose what you want on Facebook. Leave GPS enabled 24-hours a day. Knock yourself out!

But…have you thought about who else is watching…and why? Twitter has inked a deal to sell two-years' history of your tweets; location included. What's so important about location, anyway?

Even I can see some value in disclosing your location, under certain circumstances. For example:


  1. A minor who goes missing,
  2. The family pet runs away,
  3. A vehicle veers off the road and crashes into a tree in an isolated area, and the driver's unconscious or is trapped and can't reach their phone,
  4. A bunch of friends plan to get together and, rather than having to contact each other, they simply home in on the organizer's location.

I could go on, of course. And obviously, some of these items are critical, while others are simply convenient. The problem is, all kinds of other people have an interest in knowing your patterns:


  1. Advertisers, so they can tailor-make their ads to bring you goods and services in your vicinity,
  2. Insurance providers,
  3. Law enforcement,
  4. The burgler who's waiting to break into your home,
  5. Your boss,
  6. That pesky process-server,
  7. Your significant other(s),
  8. Your stalker.

Lately, in my market, Flo from Progressive Insurance has been touting their Snapshot Discount (by the way, am I the only one who is – in California vernacular – totally freaked out by Flo?) It's a device you plug into your vehicle, and it monitors your driving habits, such as how hard you brake.

Of course, it also monitored how hard the driver from List A was braking just before s/he crashed into that tree. And now we have several people from List B who are interested; the insurance carrier (noted), law enforcement (obviously), the boss (if it's a company car), a significant other (because you were supposed to be on your way to the corner store, but you were 15 miles from home) and of course, that pesky process-server (when the tree sues a few months later).

This is an over-the-top example to make a point. I'm not picking on Progressive. I could just as easily cite Onstar, et al. Besides, many newer vehicles already monitor the driver's habits through their own black boxes.

You think you're giving out information for one purpose; but others are taking it for a completely different purpose. You can either act accordingly, or go with the Flo…

#Security Questions that AREN’T SECURE, DAMMIT!!!


/Rant ON

Note to the people who create security questions for our online accounts; the whole point of providing this service is to let us select questions that nobody else knowsor may easily discover!!!  With this in mind, please refrain from creating questions that require as answers:

My mother’s/father’s middle names
My mother’s maiden name
Any of my grandparents’ names
The names of any of my pets
My siblings’ first names
My siblings’ middle names
The cities in which any of my family members were born
The schools I attended
My favorite sports team(s)
My favorite sports team(s) as a child
My best friend, growing up
My favorite…anything!

You’re a bank, for Pete’s sake, and you can’t figure out that most of this information may be gleaned from a simple Google search, a Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or other social media posting (for those of you who over-share), friends & family members and/or public records!?!?!?

Right, then. Please handle by c.o.b., Friday. Thanks for your anticipated cooperation.

/Rant OFF

A Perry Home Companion

MP900400186 Well, it's been a quiet week in eDiscovery Insights-Land, California, out on the edge of the prairie…the little blawg that time forgot and the decades may improve…where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the lawyers are above average…

Anybody who's a fan of Garrison Keillor recognizes the above reference.  About the only connection I have to the original is that I grew up in the province of Alberta, which is on the Canadian prairie (yes, Canada has a prairie…)

I channeled that quote after reading this great line from Adrian Dayton in the National Law Journal:

"Social media and blogging aren't about making you famous; they are about making you a little bit famous…"

Dayton examines why major law firms are – or aren't – blogging, and why.  Take it from me, I can think of many reasons to blog and many reasons not to blog.  In this 'taken out of context' world, which also happens to be a staple of litigation strategy (as I partially examined in this post, recently) it's very easy for someone to take a snippet of information and manipulate it.

Comes with the territory.  Like it or not, we live in a sound-bite world.

On the other hand, a lot of major firms may not be blogging; but they're reading us.  I found that out when, for example, a Partner at Jones Day quoted one of my posts for an article about Twitter in the New York State Bar Association Journal.

A little bit famous…

[Thanks to Charlotte Brownstone for today's title!]

e-Evidence Insights: Social Media Doesn’t Distinguish Between Good and Bad Riots

Rockem_Sockem_Robots In the "Be careful what you wish for!" category, first we had the Arab Spring, which was considered to be a positive development for the Middle East – in the West, anyway.  Now we have the UK riots – and the reaction is entirely the opposite.

With the Arab Spring, social media was hailed as a catalyst to facilitate needed change.  And with the UK riots?  Social media is being disparaged as – you guessed it – a catalyst to facilitate anarchy.

That's the problem with revolutions; perspective is skewed based on which side of them you're on.

What's more interesting to me is the difference between the vehicles of change.  With the Arab Spring, it was Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  With the UK riots, it's Blackberry Messenger (as if Blackberry doesn't have enough public-relations issues right now, including losing yours truly as a customer).

What's driving this decision?  Economics, for one (Blackberries are cheaper in that region) and secrecy (BBM is private).  I don't want to belabor the point – people died in both riots – but we should endeavor to understand these issues.

If this were happening in the United States, we'd be arguing whether this was a Constitutional violation of the Brandenburg standard.  And while we argued, the FBI would be accumulating electronic evidence.

You may consider yourself to be on the 'right' side of the revolution, but make no mistake; either way, someone is tracking you.  This will make a big difference if, in the end, you find yourself on the 'wrong' side.

We the Twitter of the United Facebook, in Order to Form a More Perfect YouTube…

Popsicle Anyone who still doubts the power of social media should take note of this story.  Iceland is re-writing its Constitution, which would be a big enough deal on its own, however, they're inviting public comment on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Think about the implications of this for a moment.  A process normally reserved for the elites of society, accessible to the general public.

Now, if I can just find a way around the 140-character requirement…

e-Discovery Insights Turns Bi(Coastal) to Examine Teen Sexting

MP900431786 By (no pun intended) coincidence, both the states of California and New York are addressing sexting issues by students and/or teens.  The California Senate has already passed their version, while New York has only reached the proposal stage of their version.  New Jersey is ahead of both states and has already passed a bill.

California's approach is more in the discipline arena, spelling out how students may be punished for sexting where the misconduct falls under the jurisdiction of a school.  New York's is more broad and is geared toward a diversion program for first-time young offenders.

We've seen many jurisdictions take a very hard line where sexting by and between minors is concerned.  For example, children have been charged with distributing child pornography – even for sexting photos of themselves.  These are serious felonies that could result in jail time as well as the perpetrator being forced to register as a sex offender.

Furthermore, we get into a sticky area of protected classes, which are rules designed to protect the target class of an offense.  In other words, if a statutory rape charge is designed to protect a young female against the advances of a young male, and both are caught having sex, the rule prevents prosecuting the female because she's in the class the offense is designed to protect.  I refer to it as the "Groucho Marx" Rule (you know, "I wouldn't join any club that would have me as a member"?)  The relevance here is that in many sexting cases, minors are being charged via underage rules that were designed to protect – you guessed it – minors.

I like to preface all child-related discussions with the fact that I don't have any children, so I'm not pretending to be the most qualified in the area, however, my approach is to ask current parents what they think they might have done if they'd had access to all of this amazing technology when they were young and – most likely – didn't consider the consequences of their actions?  Do they think they might have done ill-advised, accidental or – dare I say – stupid things?  Most of them would probably admit they might have; or did.  Would they want their lives – and possibly their entire futures – destroyed due to one moment of poor decision-making?  Remember, the only difference between now and then is, Twitter, Facebook and the Internet didn't exist to capture it all in real-time.

Normally, I wouldn't 'go there', but since this just happened a couple of hours ago, what do you think Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is thinking about right now?

We have to look very carefully at the facts.  If the incident was truly devoid of the intent to do harm, I have to say, I like New York's approach.

Besides, dammit, if the Internet existed when I was young, I'd be a famous rock star instead of a lawyer!