Beware the keyboard counselor

What to do when every social media account now seems to come with a shiny new law degree.

One comment

  1. Gretchen Barker

    I’ve seen this in action from before social media, and I agree that it will explode with increasing social media. People have always sought out the positive opinions of others to validate their own positions in their court battles, and often those of us who litigate would be facing an opponent with unrealistic expectations about what the law would get them. It makes negotiating a settlement near impossible. How often has a naïve opponent arrived to the negotiation table with a head filled with dreams of a big verdict, what I call “the lawsuit lottery”, or some biased view of how property or children’s time should be managed in a dissolution case? How many times have they stormed away from negotiations, complaining that the law is unfair, insisting that their best friend or their mother’s hairdresser or the guy they met online ended up with a much better result?

    It’s an important skill for us to develop, to help our clients (and naïve opponents, if we want PRODUCTIVE settlement negotiations) understand that every case is different, and what happened to the neighbor’s case is not likely to happen in their case. In many situations, the end result is much more fair than our clients believe… and depending upon which side we are on, that means our clients will be getting a BETTER result than what they feared, or they’ll be horribly disappointed.

    Client management skills are vital in this world, because if we cannot help them understand the REALISTIC likely results of their case, we are highly likely to find ourselves at the wrong end of an angry client… maybe one with no real teeth as far as a REAL complaint against us would stand… but one who runs around, suggesting to all their friends and loved ones that we did not do the best job we could, that they got the shaft from the legal system and their lawyer… etc., etc…

    I don’t see this is a distinct problem that arose after social media began, but as the continuation of an ongoing problem that has simply gotten bigger and less manageable since social media started.

    These days, instead of saying “uncle Joe got a better result”… we are facing their claims of “the INTERNET says I should get a better result”… and we are shadow-boxing an elusive opponent who could magically come up with a better result, but who doesn’t have to ever show their face and PROVE it. WHo has no details about what is really in our case file or our opponent’s position…

    How many times have we faced a client who sought a second opinion, where the lawyer did something unethical by rendering a contrary opinion to ours without bothering to get all the information they needed in order to give an INFORMED opinion? Before the internet, that was a pretty rare occurrence… but after the internet, it’s a DAILY occurrence.

    Oh well. At least knowing about the phenomenon makes it possible to deal with it.