As a marketing director at a law firm, not only do I market the firm’s skills and services to the public to generate leads, but I also support the staff with marketing materials, tools and research.
In today’s digital world, that research has evolved to include what is commonly referred to as, ‘social listening’. Typically, social listening consists of setting ‘alerts’ so that anytime your company is mentioned, (good or bad), you will be notified. Alerts can be triggered when mentioned in a post or comment, or when tagged in a picture. An alert can also come in the form of a hashtag you created or are monitoring.
An easy way to monitor the web is to create a Google ‘alert’ and enter the particular names or phrases you want to keep track of. Once its’ set up, you’ll receive email updates anytime something gets published that matches your alert criteria.
As listening continues to evolve and social media permeates the fabric of society, social listening for law firms has become a very hot topic, which falls under the expanding category of ‘E-Discovery’.
Law firms are not only allowed to, but in fact expected to, (as part of their due diligence) to monitor public social media accounts of potential jurors during the selection process, as well as for jurors during trial.
As Andrea Ciobanu wrote in the article “E-Discovery” and the Undiscovered Territory of Social Media, ‘to effectively advocate or defend for our clients we need to be aware of electronic discovery, its inherent implications, how to obtain it, as well as its limitations’.
The guidelines in this area also continue to evolve. Just last year an article by Ben Hancock on Law.com, revealed that Judge Meenu Sasser, a state circuit court judge in West Palm Beach, expects that attorneys will be researching jurors’ social media accounts both before and during the case.
The article goes on to quote judge Sasser saying that “It’s an unspoken expectation,” and part of a lawyer’s “duty of competence,” and that clients might be rightfully miffed if their attorneys aren’t doing that kind of investigation.
Beyond selection, Judge Sasser also expects law firms to make sure that jurors are not revealing any information regarding the case on their social media accounts that would result in a mistrial and explains to jurors that their public profiles will likely be browsed.
It’s a growing challenge in the legal system, one which many law firms are scrambling to create a system and effectively manage the process.
This information can potentially reveal a more accurate profile of the juror, especially in cases where there is abundant information. The practical application means that nothing posted online is off limits. If a juror posts something that shows a bias or reveals information about the trial it can, and rightfully will be, used against them.
Our goal leading up to, (and definitely during the trial itself), is to make every effort to review and filter the public social media accounts of jurors and determine if there is cause for concern or there is something that needs to be addressed further in a deposition.
The outcome I believe will lead to a better assembly of jurors by providing attorneys with insights not previously accessible.
John Garcia, Marketing and Social Media Director