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‘Going geek’ at MSBA

Danny Jacobs//June 14, 2012

‘Going geek’ at MSBA

By Danny Jacobs

//June 14, 2012

Lots of options during the first educational session at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City. But, this being a blog, I felt I would not have been doing my duty if I did not attend the session on technology.

There was lots of talk of gadgets (Livescribe smart pens), apps (FastCase, Clio) and social media at the session, sponsored by the Solo and Small Firm Practice Section.

The big takeaway from the speakers was to embrace the technology. One audience member asked Hughie Hunt, a presenter, how secure cloud-based case management is.

“That’s a very 1980s question,” Hunt replied to laughter. “How secure is anything?”

The audience skewed older, many taking notes with pen and paper (although there were a few iPads in the crowd). So there was a lot of Tech 101. Dropbox, for example, was a “bigger and dumber version – in a good way” of Evernote for storing and sharing files, said presenter Bruce Godfrey.

There were also plenty of reminders that new technology doesn’t mean you can forget old ethics.

“FindLaw made me do it is not a defense” before the Attorney Grievance Commission, Godfrey said. “If you delegate marketing, you delegate ethics.”

Godfrey was also skeptical of lawyers marketing themselves online.

“We’re not cans of soup,” he said. “Our brand is our name on our letterhead.”

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a name for yourself in social media, according to presenter (and Generation J.D.’s own) Heather Pruger.

Setting up a Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile is OK, she said, but being engaged is a better way to enhance and expand your professional network and reputation.

“Social media is very much a two-, three-, four- and five-way street,” Pruger said.

The standard warnings you’ve probably heard a million times already still apply — don’t mix professional and personal conduct in social media and don’t do advise your client to do anything online you wouldn’t advise them to do in the real world. Pruger told the story of one lawyer fined $700,000 for advising a client to delete her Facebook profile during litigation.

Pruger recommended lawyers advise clients to stay off social media during litigation “unless they have a really good reason not to.”


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