Social media research is the new reality for trial attorneys, the American Bar Association (ABA) opines. Christine Martin of the ABA’s Section of Litigation recognizes that “risks and liabilities covered by the rules of professional ethics, confidentiality, defamation, copyright, and trademark, not to mention legitimate concerns over privacy and safety” are inherent in online social media sites. She makes the following recommendations in the article linked above:
- Legal professionals need to become more knowledgeable about the best use of social media research—not just for their own sake but also to better serve their clients, including reputation monitoring and opinion mining of themselves, their firms, and their clients.
- Social media research can be used to measure public opinion on hot button issues that may arise in an attorney’s case as it progresses to trial, including negative opinions of their clients and perceptions of their actions to the public.
- Social media is a critical tool is for trial research including information on witnesses and potential jurors:
“Attorneys must assume that jurors could look up key definitions on Wikipedia, use Google to research trial participants, including the lawyers, and search for geographical locations and the history of the case. Part of the trial team’s new due diligence is being informed about what is available online.”