Law Technology News reports that law firm associates are increasinly using social media sites for work. Their Associate Tech survey showed that "more than a third of respondents (35 percent, up from 31 percent the year before) say they use social networking tools—both specialized legal blogs and applications intended for the public at large—for job-related purposes. LinkedIn was the most popular platform, at 94 percent, followed by Facebook at 30 percent and Twitter at 13 percent. Other sources listed by respondents included Instagram, Google Chat, and Pinterest, along with such industry-specific sites as Lexblog." The article suggests that lawyers need to use their tools because their existing and potential clients are using them for "personal and business purposes."
The National Center for State Courts has created an online Resource Guide on Social Media and the Courts. This Guide provides lists of courts which are employing social media like Twitter and Facebook and information on the impact of social media on juries in the courtroom, social justice, judicial elections, and other topics. The new site also provides a link to the December 2010 Ohio Judicial Ethics Opinion which indicates that a judge can be a "friend" on a social networking site with a lawyer in a case pending before the judge, as long as the judge does it "carefully," whatever that means.
In a recent news release, the U.S. Courts' system has announced the creation of a proposed, new, model jury instruction on the use of social media during trials in federal court. A Judicial Conference Committee created the proposed instruction in an attempt to curb jury misuse of social media tools to research cases and communicate about them while the cases are pending. The instruction not only contains guidelines on instructing the jury before, during, and at the end of trial, but it also addresses violations and the consequences jurors can face.