Facebook and E-Discovery

Please check out my blog post on the Gibbons E-Discovery Law Alert. It’s called How Useful is Facebook’s “Download Your Information” Feature in E-Discovery? Here is a taste:

“In October 2010, Facebook announced a new Download Your Information (“DYI”) feature, billed as ‘an easy way to quickly download to your computer everything you’ve ever posted on Facebook and all your correspondences with friends: your messages, wall posts, photos, status updates and profile information.’ …But, how effective is the DYI feature as a discovery tool? And, is there any way to be sure that the adversary is not hiding any information?”

Read the rest here. Thanks.

 

Blogs and Facebook Posts as Evidence in Lawsuits

Doh!

The New York Daily News reports that Richmond County Supreme Court Judge Catherine DiDomenico (no relation) terminated a woman’s $850 per month alimony payment after she posted evidence of ability to work on a blog and on Facebook.

Three years ago, Dorothy McGurk won the settlement from her husband when she claimed that a 1997 car accident left her unable to work.  When her ex-husband, Brian McGurk, saw her blog posts in which she wrote about belly dancing every day, he brought the matter back before the court.  McGurk’s lawyer, Thomas Kyle, “said the blog posts convinced [the judge that] the dancer was fit enough to fend for herself.”  Kyle continued, “If she could blog for hours, if she could dance the day away in Manhattan, then how is it she couldn’t hold down a job?”

Dorothy McGurk also helped dig her own grave with a Facebook post. When a Facebook friend asked why she hadn’t posted pictures of her belly dancing on the social network, McGurk reportedly replied, “Gotta be careful what goes on line pookies, …The ex would love to fry me with that.”  Ironic.

Judge DiDomenico terminated the monthly payments from the ex-husband and awarded him $5,000, plus interest for lawyer’s fees.  The judge also ordered the ex-wife to move out of the couples’ house and awarded the ex-husband 60% of it’s value.

This story is a good example of some of the social media lessons that I constantly teach:

  1. Assume that whatever you post online is public and that anyone can find it.  Indeed, the ability for people to find your stuff is the purpose of a blog, or other website.  If you want to keep something private, keep it offline.
  2. Don’t assume that your social networking is private — even if you restrict your posts to a small number of Facebook (or other social network) friends; you never know how what you write may surface.  McGurk certainly didn’t expect her Facebook comment to be read by her ex husband.
  3. If you’re a lawyer, use social media as a tool to help win your case.

Location, Location, Location Based Social Networking

The take away: Location-based social networking is about “assisted serendipity” – using technology to turn an otherwise chance encounter into a real business opportunity.

Location-based social networking (LBSN) applications are becoming quite popular.  They are not entirely new, however.  Here’s a nice list of LBSN sites – some of which have been discontinued, including the Google-owned Dodgeball (replaced by Google Latitude).  The most hyped LBSN app is Foursquare.  If you follow me on Twitter or are a Facebook friend, then you know that I’ve been experimenting with Foursquare for several weeks now.

location-locationWhat is a LBSN?

We’ve barely wrapped our heads around Twitter, and now we’re expected to adopt yet another new-fangled social media phenomenon.  To help explain why you might want to do this, I’ll use Foursquare as an example. Here’s how it works:

Much like any social network, Foursquare members start by creating profiles and adding friends or contacts.  But unlike most SN sites, Foursquare is meant to be used on the go – from a mobile device (I use Foursquare’s iPhone App, but there are apps for BlackBerry and Android too).  Using a mobile device’s GPS or cell tower triangulation technology, Foursquare suggests nearby locations — perhaps a bar or museum or sporting event venue — where a user can “check-in.”

Users can view details about nearby places, including tips left by previous Foursquare users (e.g., “Try the bacon cheeseburger…”).  Users can also see who else has checked-in recently.  Local businesses take advantage of location-based data to help lure customers with special offers.

tasti-dFor example, on a recent trip to The Shops at Columbus Circle in New York, the nearby Tasti D-Lite shop “noticed” I was there and offered a discount on an ice cream cone if I stopped by.

There is also a “game” aspect to Foursquare.  Users collect “badges” and points for various activities like checking in to ten or more locations in a week, or for checking in to different types on places.  My favorite is the “Jobs” badge (awarded for checking in to three or more Apple Stores), which entitles you to a free “iHoverboard” if you show the badge to an Apple Genius at the store.

Foursquare also lists the times and locations where your friends check in.  If you’re really in to it, you can get an alert every time someone checks in to any location (I don’t recommend this because it will drive you crazy – especially if your Foursquare friends are active users).

Finally, you can opt link your Foursquare account with your other social networks so that your Foursquare updates appear on your Facebook wall or in your Twitter stream.  Fair warning: this might irritate your Twitter followers and Facebook friends – especially if you’re an active user – because they will be inundated with messages like “Patrick just checked in at the Apple Store…” all day long.  Rather than setting Foursquare to automatically update your other networks, set it to prompt you to choose whether to do so on a case-by-case basis.

OK….so why would I want do that?

This is the same question that we asked about LinkedIn, then Facebook, then Twitter before millions of people signed up.  There are lots of theories about why we do this social networking stuff.  But do we need yet another social network; one that lets everyone know where we are – all the time?  Well, this may fall under the Steve Jobs category of “a lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

Do you want to let everyone know where you are all the time?  Probably not.  But that’s not the question.  The question is: Would you like a unique opportunity to connect with your contacts — in real life?

Location-based social networking is not about restaurant recommendations, or discounted ice cream, or badges.  It’s about “assisted serendipity.”  Never before have we been able to help along a chance encounter, or to take advantage of an opportunity that we didn’t even know existed.

For example, let’s say you’re traveling and have some time to kill while you wait for your flight at the airport.  Little did you know, one of your contacts–a business prospect–is there too.  You might happen to run into your contact, but given the conditions (the size of the airport, the number of people, etc.) the chances are slim.  More than a mere catalyst that simply hastens an inevitable chemical reaction, a LBSN, like Foursquare can create an opportunity — turning a potential chance meeting into a sure thing.

So, will you use a LBSN application, or is it just too much too soon?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

“Location” Photo Credit: http://www.vegsource.com/talk/humor/messages/99895680.html

New Jersey Courts Embrace Web 2.0 / Social Media

New Jersey State courts have announced the adoption of several Web 2.o technologies to better serve the legal community.   These include RSS feeds, a Twitter page, a YouTube channel, and a Facebook page.  The text of the press release is below (and here’s a link to it).

Judiciary Uses Social Media to Keep Court Users Informed

SMS text messages.  RSS feeds.  Facebook.  YouTube.

The Judiciary is taking advantage of the latest media developments to keep the public informed of the latest court developments.  Now, lawyers, litigants, law enforcement, state agencies, reporters and others can obtain up-to-the-minute court news and information on their cell phones as well as online.

“Our court users rely heavily on social media to stay informed and connected.  We are responding to their expectations for timely information that maximizes the convenience of the Internet and of cell phones and other devices,” said Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts.

Court users can sign up for breaking news alerts via short message service (SMS) text alerts on their cell phones.  Users sign up for the service through a link on the Judiciary home page, njcourts.com.  The text messages will announce unscheduled court closings and other high priority information so that users who are not in the office or at home in front of their computers will receive the information in real time on their cell phones.  The Judiciary also has begun using Twitter to send short “tweets” about breaking court news.  To sign up for either of these options, users can click on the SMS or Twitter links on the Judiciary home page.  Those links will take them to the appropriate Web sites to sign up for those services.

Users also can add one of three Judiciary RSS feeds to their home pages.  Users can choose to receive the news release feed, notices to the bar, or Supreme and Appellate Court opinions, or all three options, by clicking on the RSS icon on the Judiciary home page.  The site will link directly to a sign-up page that will allow users to have the feeds sent to their personal start page on Google, Yahoo or another Web-based personal site.   As soon as a new item is posted to the Judiciary Web site in one of those categories, the information will be available immediately on the personal start page.

Facebook users can join the group “New Jersey Courts” to see press releases, court information and photos of court events. The Judiciary’s Facebook page is updated daily and the links can be shared with others who are not currently members of the group.

Finally, the Judiciary has begun posting videos on YouTube for court users to learn more about the courts.  Topics covered by the videos include the Judiciary’s mortgage foreclosure mediation program and the Veteran’s Assistance Project.  Future videos will address help available for self-represented litigants and volunteer opportunities.  To find video clips about the New Jersey courts, go to youtube.com/njcourts.

For more information on how to sign up for any of the new services, call 609-292-9580.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Does Anybody Know…? – a new website helps you get answers from your network.

aardvarkThere’s an impressive new website called Aardvark that helps you answer the question: “Does anybody know…?”  by tapping your online networks.  This is not a search engine.  The results are not a list of websites that may or may not get you the answers you need.  The results are from real people in real time.

So, how does it work?  Sign up at the Aardvark site [click here].  It requires that you have a Facebook [my page] account (other networks will be integrated in the future).  From the Aardvark site you can ask a question by simply typing your query into the box.  If you add your instant messaging (like Google Talk, AIM or Windows Live Messenger) and or email account information, you can ask questions via IM and email, too.  According to the site, “Aardvark first looks for a friend or friend-of-friend who can answer your question. If there are only a few people in your network, Aardvark will send your question to your very extended network (friends-of-friends-of-friends-of…) to make sure that you get an answer.”

So, how well does it work?  My first question was: “What’s the best Italian restaurant in midtown Manhattan?”  Within moments, I received an answer from Sara: “Becco is really great, on 46th between 8th and 9th(?). possibly 9th and 10th. it’s a little pricy but if you want to eat in midtown that’s the norm.”  Not bad.

Then I asked, “Where is the best place to see the 2009 Macy’s 4th of July fireworks display in NYC?”  I happen to know that, this year, the barges from which the fireworks are launched will be along the Hudson River (not the East River, as in years past) and according to Macy’s, the best place to view the show is on the west side: 12th Avenue below 59th Street, so this was a bit of a test.   The first answer came from Ling: “bring a chair to sit on the FDR, or watch it from someone’s rooftop.”  That would have been good advice last year, but the FDR is on the east side of Manhattan.  The second answer came from Josh: “Battery Park is a good place, also top of the Empire State Building.”  Again, Battery Park — at the southern tip of Manhattan, was good viewing for last year’s show, but this year?  Not so much.

So, is Aardvark a failure?  Time will tell as the site matures, but so far, I don’t think so.  The site and integration with Facebook, email, and IM is great.   So, mechanically, it works – I can ask questions and get answers very quickly and efficiently.  The quality of the answers is another matter.  It seems that Aardvark may be better at getting opinion answers (best Italian restaurant?) than facts (where can I see the fireworks?).  Besides, there are some questions that are best left to Google (I could have–and did–easily found the relevant information about the prime fireworks viewing with a quick web search).

The thing that sets Aardvark apart from Internet search engines is the human touch.  Sometimes, that is a good thing, and sometimes, well, it’s not.  Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to asking and answering questions on this interesting new website. And I’m looking forward to exploring how this sort of approach can advance KM efforts. So, in the spirit of the human touch, please let me know what you think of Aardvark (feel free to sign up with this link: http://vark.com/s/hUnq) and leave a comment below.

Photo: Tut99 on Flickr

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Best Practices for Social Networking for Lawyers – Web 2.0

I attended LegalTech New York and took some notes from Tuesday, February 3, 2009.   I was reluctant to call this “social networking” but the name persists.  They may be a little rough, so please forgive any typos.

From the conference: Web 2.0: Best Practices for Online Networking Exhibit

  • Opportunities in online networking for attorneys
  • Re-energize the traditional, valuable art of networking with tightened budgets, time and resources
  • Growth areas, benefits and challenges of online networking
  • Best practices on selecting a network
  • Gaining the strategic advantage of an online network

Moderator:
Robert Ambrogi, Journalist

Panelists:
John Lipsey, Vice President, Corporate Counsel Services, LexisNexis
Vanessa DiMauro, CEO & President, Leader Networks
Eugene M. Weitz, Corporate Counsel, Alcatel-Lucent
Olivier Antoine, Counsel, Crowell & Moring

My friend and fellow KM guy, David Hobbie,  is also blogging this session on Caselines.

My notes form the session:

Not surprisingly, this session on packed.

Among business people, online networking and social media (SM) is a source of fear.

One survey said 15% of people in the legal industry are members of some sort of social networking (SN).  Another survey says that 59% of lawyers are members of some sort of SN.

Vanessa DiMauro finds that web 2.0 stuff is still new, but maturing.  SM is no longer about tools, but how to apply them and measure them and determine ROI.

John Lipsey – Martindale Hubbell is looking to transform from what it was (print-based lawyer listings) to what it will become (a more useful way for lawyers to fulfill their business needs). The new product is Martindale Hubbell Connected (MHC).  He likes the term “professional networking” rather than SN – me too. They have done a lot of research to figure out what lawyers want and need.

The MHC does not allow anonymous users – it authenticates so that the members have confidence that they know who they are communicating with.  The advantage that MH has is a HUGE database of information on lawyers that they can use to make and enhance connections.  They want to integrate into existing workflow.  This could include the connectors that InterAction (another LexisNexis product) has with LinkedIn.  [makes sense to me]

Olivier Antoine is a practicing attorney who gave his perspective about the value of SN.  It provides value to clients so that you can provide information about who knows who.

Eugene M. Weitz mentioned how he has 2 Blackberrys because he has a professional network and a social network.  He maintains these separately intentionally.  He wants to keep them separate.

The networks allow in house counsel to connect with those who they want to – among in-house counsel, for example.  They can discuss things that are important to them and collaborate within that group.

Bob Ambrogi questioned how Weitz is able to maintain two separate networks.  The investment in time is very difficult to justify.

[side note: while blogging this, I’m also watching Twitter, which is on fire with the #LTNY.  Doug Cornelius just wondered–on Twitter– when MH Connected will be launched.  Mary Abraham, who was in the room, passed along the question and go the answer: Q1 this year.]

DiMauro says there are different social norms that come along with SN – much of the communication is transparent, so you need to be careful.

There was much discussion about networks of trusted people – this reminded me of the really nice ILTA online networking community that is used to connect and ask questions without the threat of vendors reading of contributing

Weitz stressed the need to maintain client confidentialities when participating in online networking communities.   Even asking a simple question or asking for a recommendation can disclose certain information that shouldn’t be disclosed.

Weitz says that this is no different than the type of communication by lawyers – only the vehicle has changed.  The bottom line is that lawyers haveto be as careful with SN sites as they are with all communications – and is some cases, more careful.

DiMauro noted that many other industries have adopted SM and SN.  The legal industry — which has been a late comer and fearful of it — can learn from these other industries.

An audience member asked about the value of LinkedIn.  Oliver gave an example about how he could see that five people from a company he pitched had looked at his profile after the pitch.  There is no other way to get that type of information.  Bob Ambrogi noted that LinkedIn is at least an online directory of business people on the web – the way Martindale Hubbell used to be.

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms

Social Networking for Lawyers: What Works? What Doesn't?

What good is social networking if you can’t use it to get a recommendation from your contacts?

A friend recently asked me for a recommendation for an immigration lawyer in New York City. Although I’m a lawyer, I don’t personally know any immigration lawyers; but I thought that some of my social network friends might be able to point me in the right direction.

Twitter

My first thought was Twitter. About 125 people “follow” me (as LawyerKM) on Twitter [you can too!]. There are about 80 people who “follow” me on Twitter under my personal Twitter account [you can too! – email me at lawyerkm at gmail.com for details]. There is some duplication among followers, so, there’s not really over 200 prospective followers. My tweet was: “need an immigration lawyer in New York City – please @lawyerkm … with recommendations.

Then I thought about Facebook. I’ve got 90 contacts on Facebook. I personally know many (but not all) of my Facebook contacts. As a little background, I started using Facebook as a strictly professional networking platform; my profile was “all business.” As I became more comfortable with it, I loosened up and started adding more non-work related information, and personal friends; not just KM stuff. (On a KM-related note, I also started a Facebook group called Knowledge Management for Legal Professionals, which you may join.) I reached out to my Facebook contacts by way of a status update, which said “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation. Anyone?”

What I thought would happen and what really happened were two very different things. Both Twitter and Facebook are very popular these days, and everyone is talking about them. My Twitter contacts are very active, and many of them are lawyers or in the legal industry. My Facebook contacts are pretty active, as well, but Twitter seems to have Facebook beat on the activity scale (this is a purely subjective observation).

Based on my Twitter contact types (law-related), I expected to instantly get dozens of recommendations from my Twitter contacts. I didn’t expect much from Facebook, however, because my contacts there are more diverse.

Surprise! In reality, I received no Twitter responses and a relative flood (no fewer than five) of Facebook responses – some within minutes, others within a few hours. Even more surprising was the quality of the responses. They were from real-life contacts (i.e. people I know) who actually used the lawyers that they recommended.

I passed the referrals along and my friend was pleased.

So, why did I get such good results on Facebook and bad results on Twitter? This, of course, is speculation, but these factors may have something to do with it.

Twitter's posting interface

The platforms – Twitter vs. Facebook Twitter is simple, but not so feature-rich. It basically allows you to post short (140 characters) messages for the world (or your followers) to see. Direct messaging to other Twitter members is another option. You can include links to web pages, but that’s about it. Your posts (or tweets) are listed in reverse chronological order. Since Twitter can only display so many tweets, the messages of the people you follow will be displaced by newer messages. So, with the really high rate of tweets out there (at least among the Tweeters I follow), you’re bound to miss a lot of posts – unless you keep a consistent eye on your Twitter account (or if you have those tweets fed to you via RSS for later consumption in an RSS reader). If your followers haven’t checked their Twitter accounts recently, they probably will have missed your latest posts.

Facebook tab menu

Facebook is a much more complex platform. There is more to it. People can share a lot more information about themselves. Work, school, hometown, religious, political, photos, etc. And this is key: there are non-linear, non-chronological connections on Facebook. Click on your home page and see your “news feed” – i.e., information about your Facebook friends. Check out their status updates, and their photos, too. It sucks you in. You’ll find yourself clicking around to see what’s going on with your friends. What groups have they joined? [My favorite, other than my own, is the group “I Secretly Want To Punch Slow Walking People In The Back Of The Head,” which has close to one million members.] You can also send Twitter-like updates to your Facebook friends, too (that’s how I got the word out). Bottom line: there’s a lot more information about your friends and a lot more ways to get to it. The interactions on Facebook, I think, are more meaningful. That level of connectedness, which is lacking on Twitter, makes all the difference. It makes people want to interact.

What about LinkedIn?

Ironically, when I set out to find a lawyer recommendation, I didn’t even think of LinkedIn – the business networking website. It wasn’t until the next day that I thought of it. But then I thought: how would I even go about using LinkedIn to get a recommendation? I didn’t want to spend a lot of time searching by keywords only to bring up second and third degree contacts, which require me to request introductions from my first degree contacts. Too much work. I finally decided to update my LinkedIn status with “looking for an immigration lawyer recommendation…” The result: nothing. There just isn’t a good way (at least as far as I know) to reach all of your LinkedIn contacts like you can do on Facebook.

Your thoughts / experiences?

So, have you had similar experiences? Have you successfully used social networking sites to make business connections? What’s worked? What hasn’t?

LawyerKM :: Knowledge Management & Technology for Lawyers and Law Firms