Attorney Kaltenbach Speaks to the Press About Social Media Use

Attorney Jerry Kaltenbach was featured in a recent article in The Daily Reporter regarding the use of social media by lawyers. Here’s the article:

By Jessica Shambaugh |Daily Reporter Staff Writer

Published: 03/23/2012

Columbus attorneys are being followed.

With the social networking website Twitter reporting to have hundreds of millions of registered users, it may not be surprising that members of the Columbus legal community have joined the masses in trying to accumulate followers and continually reaching out to the world in 140 characters or less.

“Like it or not, social media is here to stay,” said Jerry Kaltenbach, a Columbus litigation, real estate and business attorney. “Twitter is only getting bigger.” Kaltenbach opened his own firm, Kaltenbach Law LLC, in November and said his personal experience with social networking immediately transitioned to a business benefit.

The attorney has more than 80 followers and tweets several times a day about “[content] that comes out of the attorney general’s office, Ohio Supreme Court opinions, 6th Circuit, things like that,” he said. While he noted that most of his interactions are with other attorneys and that the potential for getting clients through Twitter is questionable, Kaltenbach said he can see possibilities.

“To date I can’t say that I’ve ever gotten a client strictly from using Facebook or Twitter, but I also know that you’re more likely to show up in Google search results if you’re out there using these social media products,” said Kaltenbach who uses Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google Plus.

Continue reading

Cicero called to the carpet over Tressel emails

I wrote this post back on March 10, 2011, the day that Christopher T. Cicero was identified by The Columbus Dispatch as the attorney who sent e-mails to Buckeye football coach Jim Tressel warning that OSU players like Terrelle Pryor were giving away signed memorabilia in exchange for tattoos from Edward Rife, the owner of Fine Line Ink.

Mr. Cicero (Image via ESPN)

My post was not about the developing scandal at Ohio State (There has been plenty of press coverage on that topic.  Too much in the opinion of this Buckeye fan).  Instead, my post took the lawyer’s perspective since the Dispatch’s article suggested that Cicero obtained the information he sent to Tressel from Ed Rife in a meeting regarding Cicero’s potential representation of Rife in a drug trafficking investigation.  The question in a lot of attorneys’ minds was whether Cicero breached his duties to Rife by passing along attorney-client privileged information to Tressel.

The question has gathered significant steam today.  Catherine Candisky from the Dispatch reported earlier today:

The Columbus lawyer at the center of controversy surrounding former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel may lose his license to practice law.

The Ohio Supreme Court’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel today filed a complaint against Christopher T. Cicero, accusing him of violating attorney-client confidentiality when he sent three e-mails to Tressel telling him that players had been given free tattoos in exchange for signed memorabilia. Continue reading

Tressel, the Tattoo guy, and Cicero. The attorney-client perspective.

Due to suspensions, this many Buckeyes will be missing for some games this fall.

The Columbus Dispatch revealed today that Columbus lawyer Christopher T. Cicero was the “unnamed attorney” that sent e-mails to Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel starting in April 2010 warning that some players were giving away signed memorabilia in exchange for tattoos from a parlor owner, Edward Rife, who happened to be the subject of a federal drug trafficking investigation.

The revelation, which was scooped by Yahoo Sports, led to Ohio State’s self-report to the NCAA and a 2-game suspension for Tressel coupled with a $250,000 fine.

Copies of Ohio State’s March 8, 2011, letter to Julie Roe Lach, the Director of Enforcement Services at the NCAA, that includes the emails between Coach Jim Tressel and, apparently, Christopher T. Cicero can be read by clicking here: OSU’s Report including the Tressel emails.

The Dispatch reports that “Cicero, a lawyer with a checkered past [] represented the tattoo-parlor owner, Edward Rife, in 2003 when Rife was a key witness in a murder trial.”

I have no personal knowledge  of any of these facts.  I’m just reading the paper and internet articles, just like you.  However, if the reports are accurate and Cicero did send the emails to Tressel, some of Cicero’s content is troubling from the lawyer’s perspective.  Cicero had an attorney-client relationship with Rife in 2003.  While it is unclear from the emails whether there is a current and formal representation of Rife by Cicero, our rules of professional conduct state that a, “lawyer who has formerly represetend a client in a matter…shall not…use information relating to the representation to the disadvantage of the former client except as these rules would permit…or…reveal information relating to the representation except as these rules would permit.”

In one of the emails, Cicero tells Tressel that he had Rife “in my office for an hour and a half last night.”  Then, Cicero goes on to discuss the substance of his meeting with Rife held in his law office.  I have never met Mr. Cicero.  I have never met Mr. Rife.  I have no idea what the substance of the conversations were other than what the email to Jim Tressel recounts, but I do know that our rules of professional conduct state that “a lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client, including information protected by the attorney client privilege under applicable law, unless the client gives informed consent….”

I have no idea what motivated Christopher Cicero to send the emails to Tressel, if he did.  But, I do know that the content of the emails from an attorney about his own client is troubling.

One of my biggest pet peeves is reading commentary, stories, facebook status updates, or hearing coffee shop talk from people with sharp opinions when they are barely informed of all of the facts to arrive at their conclusions.  With that in mind, I reiterate that the Columbus Dispatch article this morning contains no admission by Cicero that he authored the emails.  Also, I have no personal knowledge of what transpired in the meeting between “the lawyer” and Rife discussed in the emails, or whether the two were meeting as friends or if it was a client meeting with his lawyer to discuss a problem.  I simply have a hunch, perhaps an educated hunch, that this issue is long from over for any lawyer that was in this position.

Lawyers using social networks: attorney beware!

These 12 networks just scratch the surface. There are literally hundreds of them. Click for a list.

Lawyers have all kinds of rules to follow when it comes to practicing law, giving legal advice, and advertising.  As social media has expanded over the last few years, one study suggests that 3/4 of lawyers belong to at least one online social network such as LinkedIn, facebook, and twitter.  If you look to either side of this blog, you can see that I am squarely within that 3/4 group.

There is nothing wrong with lawyers belonging to social networks, is there?  In my mind, they are free tools that provide an enormous community for users to share ideas and connect with people that would otherwise be unavailable.

But, lawyers must use their heads when using these networks.  Common sense and experience should be sufficient for most lawyers.  Perhaps the most important key to avoiding foot-in-mouth disease is to proofread, review, and THINK.  We have all had that sickening feeling in the pit of our stomach when we click “send” when we meant to click “cancel” on an email.  Even worse, is the classic “reply all” when “reply to sender” was the intent.  You can’t take those emails back, but at least the audience is limited to (hopefully) a short cc: list.  But, when you post a status update on facebook, all of your “friends” see it, your friends’ friends may see it, and eventually your post will be indexed by Google and may permanently link your name with your entertaining bathroom mishap in search results.

A recent article by Vicki Voisin sets out some examples of lawyers that should have thought twice before using social media.  One example sums up why caution, care, and though should be the focus:

Judge Susan Criss, a Galveston, Texas, state court judge, relayed an interesting personal story as part of the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting program “Courts and Media in the 21sr Century: Twitterers, Bloggers, the New Media, the Old Media, and What’s a Judge to Do?”  Judge Criss admitted learning to adapt to social media as a way to connect with long-lost friends, leveraging Facebook as a tool-and then learning a few surprising things on Facebook … The judge granted a continuance requested by a lawyer upon the death of the lawyer’s father.  Judge Criss also checked the lawyer’s Facebook page. While there was a funeral, there was also a string of status updates posted on Facebook that detailed not mourning her dear departed father, but, instead, the lawyer’s week of drinking and partying.
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I’m guessing the continued hearing was a bit awkward for the lawyer and Judge Criss.  Social media is here to stay and it makes the world smaller and communication easier.  This can be a good thing or a bad thing and it all comes down to using social networks consciously and responsibly – if you value your career, that is.