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Another Worry for Divorce Lawyers: YouTube

Tricia Walsh-Smith just may be a divorce lawyer's worst nightmare.  Ordinarily, lawyers spend most of their time counseling clients to keep their mouths shut about their cases.  Walsh-Smith did just the opposite, venting about her ex in a professionally produced video that she posted here on YouTube.   Among other things, Walsh-Smith revealed details about her sex life (or apparent lack thereof) in the video and claimed that her ex failed to comply with the terms of the pre-nup that he'd had her sign.  When I last checked the video, 144,000 people had already viewed it. 

A number of divorce lawyers interviewed for an Associated Press story criticized Walsh-Smith's tactics.  Attorney Bonnie Rabin commented that YouTube videos "bring the concept of humiliation to a whole new level."   Moreover, videos can ultimately hurt litigants -- a judge might question a party's judgment in posting a video and hold it against him in ruling on the case.  And there's always the possibility of a defamation action if the video rants include intentionally false information.

Walsh-Smith is now represented by famed divorce attorney Raoul Felder -- though she wasn't his client when she made the video.  Felder told AP that he thought his client "comes off well."  However, the majority of commenters on the video disagree; many labeled Walsh-Smith a "gold digger," with one even comparing her to another Brit involved in a contentious divorce: Heather Mills.

It's not clear whether more litigants will begin using YouTube as a way to communicate their side of the story in a proceeding.  Even so, just to be on the safe side, lawyers should caution their clients not only to refrain from talking to any person about their case, but also anything -- particularly a video camera.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on April 16, 2008 at 12:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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