When Your Blog Comes Back to Haunt You
Turns out that what we love about blogs -- their easy "find-a-bility" online and their informality -- may also be what may potentially bring us harm. Over at his home site, Law Sites, my colleague Bob Ambrogi links to this report from the Boston Globe on the hidden risks of blogging.
One story covered in the article involves Boston lawyer Edward A. Prisby who was rear-ended by a Cambridge city councilor and ranted about it on his blog, Prizblog. At a subsequent hearing over whether to charge the councilor with DUI, the councilor's lawyers used Prisby's post in an effort to suggest that he had a political ax to grind.
The Prisby matter isn't the first time that a blog has been used in a legal proceeding. From the Boston Globe article:
In March, a Plymouth doctor's blog was cited as proof that he
continued to harass a female patient who had secured restraining orders
against him. In April, a Maine man was sued for allegedly posting
defamatory blog entries in which he criticized an advertising agency's
work for the state tourism office. And in a high-profile national case,
Apple Computer filed a lawsuit seeking the identities of people who allegedly leaked information about new Apple products to several bloggers.
The article also speculates about the increasing use of blog postings in court:
Blogs are also being cited in a growing number of civil
cases, most commonly claims alleging libel, defamation, or invasion of
privacy. Unlike e-mail, which usually remains private unless it is
forwarded by a recipient, blogs are public by nature unless privacy
settings limit their audience. They are also easily findable by
Internet search engines, in contrast to e-mails, which lawyers
generally can obtain only through the discovery process.
I'm sure that some overzealous law firms and bar associations will use stories like this as further justification for banning lawyer blogs entirely. That approach would be mistaken. We lawyers don't need to stop blogging; we just need to remember to exercise a little bit of discretion when we do.
Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 28, 2006 at 04:41 PM | Permalink
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