A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with Attorney Craig Denney on a computer forensics case in Reno, Nevada. Attorney Craig has since moved on to become an Administrative Law Judge at the Social Security Administration. That’s in addition to his long-standing work as a judge for the 150th Legal Operations Detachment-Army Reserve JAG Corps (he currently presides as Commander and Chief Judge).
A few weeks ago, Judge Denney interviewed me for an article he was writing for The Writ, a publication of the Washoe County Bar Association. He asked me for some comments about the cybertraps facing attorneys as a result of the rapid rise of computer technology and social media. Like every profession, attorneys face potentiall career-ending pitfalls arising from the use and misuse of digital devices.
Here’s an excerpt with my comments; the complete newsletter can be viewed below.
2017-05 The Writ_Washoe County Bar Association
Computer forensics consultant and attorney Frederick Lane has published books and articles on “cybertraps.” Mr. Lane advises attorneys to be careful about the advice that they give their clients regarding the preservation of social media accounts. For example, Mr. Lane warns that “telling a client to ‘clean up’ a social media account might expose an attorney not merely to ethical sanctions but potentially to damages for spoliation. In a criminal case, a prosecutor might view such advice as obstruction of justice.” Mr. Lane references a widely-reported case arising out of Virginia in 2011 in which a court ordered an attorney to pay more than $500,000 after finding that the attorney had instructed his paralegal to tell the client to delete certain relevant materials from the client’s Facebook account. (Lester v. Allied Concrete).