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The First Rule…

I was reading Josh Gilliland’s post from yesterday about being careful not to break client confidentiality in your online networking status messages.

Here is how the risk of disclosure is possible: a Facebook user posts a status message they deem harmless, such as “I just landed ‘Company A’ as a client and have a bunch of back-up tapes to restore.”

Does this disclose any mental impressions or strategy about the case? Probably not, but it is flirting with disclosure. Moreover, Company A would probably not be thrilled with their lawyer announcing their actions in a lawsuit to 300 “friends.”

After reviewing data from imaged hard drives, the same individual posts the status message, “Wow, they really blew preserving their emails.”

If the client is somehow identifiable, there is a problem, because a mental impression of the client’s ESI is being disclosed. While the “friends” are probably in no way related to anyone in a lawsuit, disclosing a client confidence to one person is one too many.

As I read this, I was reminded of something I often talk about with people when it comes to social networking tools. The first rule of social networking has got to be “Don’t be Stupid”. In this case, anyone who works as a lawyer, or works in the legal field at all, has had client confidentiality drilled into their heads. Just because Twitter, or Facebook is easy to update and new doesn’t mean those same old rules don’t apply. Thinking they don’t, is stupid.

Don’t break the first rule. 🙂

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