More and more firms in South Florida are investing time and money in their business development programs to encourage young attorneys to bring in new clients. With so much of the business development focus centering around social media and online communications, it is important not to underestimate the power of connecting with people offline. As a former solo practitioner, I grew a family law practice before the advent of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These are some of the strategies I employed that are timeless and often overlooked in today’s social media-focused legal community.
Last week, the Third DCA’s opinion in Gulliver Schools, Inc. v. Snay served as a lesson to the Facebook generation to once again think before posting. The former Gulliver headmaster sued the school for wrongful termination and the parties reached a settlement whereby Snay was to receive $10,000 in back pay, an $80,000 lump sum payment and $60,000 to Snay’s attorney. As a condition to settlement, Gulliver required a confidentiality provision as to the terms of the settlement. But just four days after the parties inked the agreement, Gulliver notified Snay that he had breached the agreement based on his daughter’s Facebook post:
“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”
Gulliver notified Snay that it would pay the attorney’s fees but not Snay’s portion because he had breached the confidentiality provision. The Third agreed with Gulliver, reversing the trial court and setting a precedent that should make social media users think twice before posting. Those of us who rely on electronic discovery have been shouting from the rooftops about the dangers of social media use in litigation for many years. But the result in Snay is one of the first where a litigant has suffered greatly as a result of social media use. This should serve as a reminder to those who use social media to think before you post.
On September 18, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion in Bland v. Roberts which held that Facebook “likes” are in fact protected speech under the First Amendment.
In the case, Roberts, the Sheriff in Hampton, Virginia, fired several employees after they supported his opposition candidate in a 2009 election. Roberts prevailed in his reelection and, plaintiffs claim, he fired those employees who supported his adversary. One of the plaintiffs, Daniel Carter, Jr., claimed that he was terminated for “liking” the Facebook page of Roberts’ adversary.
By Abbey Kaplan
On July 1, 2012, Kluger Kaplan launched a blog and revamped its social media presence. A year later, I took a few moments to reflect on how the ever-changing landscape of social media has helped our firm grow its business.
Although Kluger Kaplan opened its doors in 2009 as a new firm focusing on complex commercial litigation disputes, our membership is composed primarily of veteran lawyers who began practicing law long before the days of Facebook, Twitter and WestlawNext. But building the Kluger Kaplan brand was a new experience for many of us who had found legal success through grassroots marketing efforts.
A recent ruling by a Pennsylvania state court denied a defendant’s request for plaintiffs’ social media records. In Hoy v. Holmes, case no.: S-57-12, plaintiffs sued defendant for damages arising from an automobile accident. Defendant sought and later moved to compel production of the plaintiffs’ social media records. The court denied defendant’s motion without prejudice, finding that there was no factual predicate to support a request for these documents.