“The American Bar Association, local and state bars, and courts are grappling with the issues involving discovery and social media. Undoubtedly, some of these guiding authorities that attorneys routinely rely on are lagging behind the times and are often inconsistent,” writes Saleel V. Sabnis, an attorney in Goldberg Segalla’s Professional Liability Practice Group.
“The confusion about recent bar opinions and judicial decisions should not obscure the ethical rules that, if violated, can have severe consequences for an attorney’s practice. Fear of these ethical issues should not undermine an attorney’s advocacy; rather, counsel should equip themselves with a professional, responsible, and ethical course of conduct in accessing social media information to benefit from this potential treasure trove of information.”
In this article, Saleel examines bar opinions and case decisions that, in absence of an ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct on the subject, can guide attorneys who are facing ethical dilemmas involving social media. He addresses complex issues, including whether an attorney can “friend” an individual involved in a case and what constitutes spoliation of social media evidence.