Burned at Mediation by My Own Facebook Post!

The day after we run a post about one being impeached by one’s own social media, I, as a guest author here,  had to step in and offer up my own thoughts on that very subject. I use Twitter and LinkedIn for business purposes. If you ever want to know how I use them, I would be pleased to share that with you.  I can share some success stories, and perhaps some helpful hints, if you are so inclined. I do believe some form of social media should be in every lawyer’s marketing toolbox. But it is just that: one tool among many.

I am also on Facebook. I have some 400+ “friends.” I rarely turn down a friend request. I enjoy it. I have fun posting things and engaging in online conversations about the issues of the day. I typically do not post work related material – I only do so when the firm or one of our lawyers receives an award or honor.

But there are dangers to this type of interaction, and I was burned recently by a Facebook “friend.”

I recently mediated a case with a familiar Plaintiff’s attorney. The case had been around for a year or so. A month before the mediation, the Plaintiff’s lawyer sent me a request to be his friend on Facebook. As I  am often inclined to do ,  I accepted it. I have many lawyer Facebook friends – even some plaintiff lawyers.   I learned that the Plaintiff’s lawyer in my case had posted several items about our case – not naming the lawyers or clients – but just random things. The morning of the mediation, he posted that he was mediating a case in which the “powerful corporate defendant” had “mocked and disrespected” his “disabled”  client.

Sigh.

During the mediation, the Plaintiff’s lawyer opened by saying that he did not think we were taking his client’s case “seriously.” In apparent support for that position, he actually projected onto the screen one of my very recent Facebook posts about my plans to celebrate my fiftieth birthday. (Yes, I recently turned 50.) The Plaintiff’s lawyer said, “Maybe he was ready for this mediation last Wednesday before he started celebrating his weekend birthday, but . . . .” His sentence trailed off as if to suggest his doubt. He also commented that I had not been to any of the depositions in the case, as if sending my  experienced senior associate to the depositions was in poor from.   The associate was handling it under my close supervision.  (By the way, we had sent the mediator a statement ahead of time and had prepared a booklet of material to share with the other side and the mediator to be used in the mediation.). The mediation ended unsuccessfully.

So there you have it – my personal Facebook post used against me in my own mediation. I have now defriended this Plaintiff’s lawyer.

Perhaps I will defriend other lawyers in the future – I don’t yet know. But it’s now a dilemma. Some of you will take great pleasure in pointing out how this is why one shouldn’t have a Facebook account. I don’t see it that way, of course, but it is certainly a reminder of the perils of social media.

Comments

  1. I use my FB personal account for purely personal stuff, and limit my friending accordingly. My Firm’s FB page is more open to friending, but thats because I only post legal updates there. No rambling case discussions, etc. I think all you have to do is friend only those that you can trust to keep your personal thoughts separate from your work. You may have to unfriend quite a few people to get that! 400 sounds too numerous to fit the definition of true friends.

  2. Stuart, I groaned in sympathy. I know what it’s like to have your innocent words used against you. I don’t think you have to defriend all the lawyers just the “unfriendly” ones who would stoop to tactics like that of the plaintiff’s lawyer in your post.

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  4. Stuart, you were not getting that case settled anyway. It is a fairly heightened level of doofusness – that is a word or it should be – of the plaintiff’s lawyer on two levels: (1) using the post and suggesting it was reflective of anything, and (2) suggesting that an associate handling the file suggests anything.

    I disagree with the first commenter. I would not set up my life trying to avoid something this silly from happening.

  5. Pingback: Lawyers on Facebook: Friend or Foe? « Alternative Dispute Resolution in Georgia

  6. The solution is simple.. Do what the Duke would do, or in this case, wouldn’t do.

    John Wayne wouldn’t Facebook.

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