And no, I do not want a Farmville brick . . .

During my career, very few events or developments have had an impact on the everyday practice of law as the rise of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc) have created over the last few years. Just over the last few months, I have attended legal seminars and read through numerous articles regarding how this latest electronic revolution is profoundly effecting how both lawyers and the courts handle the legal cases before them. Not only have the software platforms themselves become more widely used, but the “smartphones” and other portable devices needed to access these sites on a 24/7 basis have become standard equipment for a large percentage of our community. The information that we publish about ourselves is affecting how the legal system operates. For example, I have heard a jury consultant explain how social media sites are used to mine information about prospective and current jurors to allow that side to tailor their arguments in the case at trial. Several jury verdicts, including those in criminal trials, have been overturned after it was revealed that jurors were consulting the internet for information regarding the case, or using Facebook or Twitter to provide their “friends” with a running commentary regarding trial proceedings. There have been reports of jurors, clients and even the lawyers “friending” each other while the trial is underway. At Aitken*Aitken*Cohn, we try to remind our clients of the risks of social media. Our clients may be making their lives an open book to the defense interests who are actively searching public information to be used out of context to undermine a claim. As the old sergeant used to say on Hill Street Blues, “Let’s be careful out there!”

Darren Aitken, Esq.