St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Charles Ipock

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This Article will examine the ethical issues posed by lawyers’ use of social media platforms in light of the ABA Ethics Commission 20/20 changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct. Social networking has had a transformative effect both on the way society shares information and on the legal profession. Much of the discussion to date focuses on the discovery and use of evidence from social media sites in criminal cases and civil litigation, but attention must also be directed to the ethical quandaries posed by the legal profession’s use of social media. This Article will consider issues such as the duty to provide competent representation in the digital age; the trend of requiring lawyers, as a matter of professional competence, to be up-to-date on the use and implications of social media; and maintaining client confidentiality in the age of Facebook and Twitter. It will also discuss ethical risks that can arise from fact gathering and preservation of evidence in the social media context.