Drake University Law School professor Melissa Weresh is on a mission to get law students and young attorneys to think twice before they hit send on an e-mail, post a photo to their Facebook pages or update their Twitter accounts. New technology has made communication faster than ever before, but also has led to a widening gap in the way younger and older generations communicate and differing opinions on what is professional and appropriate. “They way [law students and young attorneys] are accustomed to communicating is just so different,” Weresh said. “Everything is immediately available, and they’ve almost been exclusively communicating through electronic mediums in ways that older generations may see as inappropriate.”
Of more interest is Professors Weresh’s comments regarding how Twitter may affect the attorney-client privilege.
Yes. I think about Twitter, and how there are no jurisdictional lines over Twitter. Could you have a dialogue that rises to an attorney/client relationship? Are there jurisdictional issues there? I don’t know, but as we continue to morph the way we communicate, it takes a while for the law to catch up to the technology. As each new mechanism develops, we really have to keep an eye on how this relates to ethics and how it might change the way we are perceived.
I’m not sure who would have any sort of private conversation on Twitter, as tweets are generally open for the entire world to see, but if people are totally desensitized to the nature of private communiques, this may be a prevalent issue. I am working on an article, tentatively titled The Law of Twitter. Law 2.0 for Web 2.0. I’ll have that ready to shop around beginning of March-ish. Stay tuned.