Ethics and Social Media Evidence: New York Issues Guidelines & Florida Contemplates an Advisory Opinion

The Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association has developed a set of “Social Media Ethics Guidelines” that explain how ethics rules apply to lawyers’ use of social media networks. The guidelines are premised on the New York Rules of Professional Conduct and precedent from New York and other states.

While the guidelines are not meant to serve as a set of “best practices,” they will likely prove a valuable tool for lawyers wishing to be conversant with the nuances of social media networks and the implications of communication therein.

These guidelines are particularly significant, given that they represent the most comprehensive statements on the issues arising around social media evidence. For example, the advice that may be given to clients regarding additions and deletions to social media profiles with regard to anticipated and ongoing litigation.

While not binding, commentators anticipate that the guidelines will be used as a model by other states when fashioning their own policies. In fact, on June 27th, the Florida Bar’s Professional Ethics Committee is considering adopting a proposed advisory opinion that will address pre-litigation questions regarding spoliation and the issue of lawyers advising their clients to “clean up” their Facebook pages prior to litigation. It will be interesting to see how influential the New York guidelines will be in Florida and other jurisdictions.

Click here to read commentary on the guidelines and click here for the full text of the guidelines.

Click here to read about Florida’s proposed advisory opinion and here to read an article on the topic in the Daily Business Review.

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