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.

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Supreme Court OK’s Judge’s use of facebook / twitter

You can "like" me now!

On December 3, 2010, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline issued an advisory opinion saying that Ohio Judges can have facebook friends and twitter followers that are also attorneys appearing before them in Court.  The Supreme Court’s website issued this release:

In one of the most comprehensive and detailed examinations in the nation, the Supreme Court of Ohio’s disciplinary board has issued an advisory opinion examining the ethical implications of judges using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

The opinion from the Board of Commissioners on Grievances & Discipline advises judges that social media use is permitted but must be done with caution, and it offers wide ranging, specific guidance to judges on how to navigate the new waters of social media without violating judicial canons that require judges to avoid even the appearance of bias or impropriety.

“This is a topic of great interest to the legal community because, like the rest of the nation, more judges are experimenting with social media in both their personal and professional lives,” said Jon Marshall, the board’s secretary. “For those judges who choose to use this technology, we hope this opinion gives them practical guidance on how to do so and maintain their obligations under the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

A recent national study found that 40 percent of judges report using social media profile sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, a proportion roughly equal to that in the general U.S. adult population. Smaller numbers reported using microblogging sites like Twitter and other less popular social media, but the numbers are expected to grow.

Opinion 2010-7 finds that a judge may be a “friend” on a social networking site with a lawyer who appears as counsel in a case before the judge, but cautions: “As with any other action a judge takes, a judge’s participation on a social networking site must be done carefully in order to comply with the ethical rules in the Code of Judicial Conduct.”

Some very logical restrictions include that (1) a  judge may not give anyone legal advice through social media sites, (2) judges may not comment on matters pending before the judge, and (3) judges cannot communicate with an attorney appearing before the judge about the matter.  The advisory opinion goes on to say that a judge should disqualify herself from a proceeding if her social media relationship with a lawyer on that case creates bias or prejudice.  All very fair rules and it demonstrates the pervasive qualities of social media and that, like it or not, it is here to stay.

You can find the entire advisory opinion here.

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.

5 Things and More to Know Before you Trademark

Do you have that great once-in-a-lifetime idea? Have you created a great logo or a new word to represent the brand behind your idea? If so, you may consider obtaining a trademark at your state level or at the federal level. The process is not easy and an article by freelance writer Shira Levine I saw today offers some advice:

It seems like almost anything can be trademarked these days. The name of a product, a catch phrase, and your own name, if it’s beguiling, for that matter. All is for sale and fair game for the bidding.

Businesses have been known do whatever it takes to protect their brand, including shut down another trademark that threatens to be the slightest bit akin to their own.

Historically individuals and companies fight to trademark even the silliest of names. The trademark for the almighty iPad, a name that most definitely does not conjure up images of the latest slick gadget from Apple, initially had issues with Fujitsu. Back in 2003, Fujitsu beat Steve Jobs to the iPad trademark, purchasing the name for use as a mobile phone.

This wasn’t the company’s first trademark dispute, either; the name Apple itself caused a multi-year battle with The Beatles’ record company.

Another extreme example is HBO’s Sex and the City franchise, which has had its fair share of trademark issues. In one situation, a clever New York entrepreneur tried to start a health and fitness business called “Health and the City”, but HBO told the owner to back off their trademark. “Health and the City”, however, won that war.

1. Make sure your trademark isn’t already taken. Use LegalZoom or the US Patent and Trademark Office website to verify if anyone has it. Continue reading