Saturday, February 1, 2014

Editor's Message: The Joys And Pains Of Technology And Social Media

By Rena Upshaw-Frazier

Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Instagram. The “cloud.” DropBox. Summation. Westlaw. Lexis. BlackBerry. iPhone. iPad. The pace at which companies and clever entrepreneurs are developing new ways to create, manipulate, share, and store information is astounding.  Typewriters, once the mainstay for drafting documents, have been relegated to those few documents and envelopes that cannot be altered by computer. Advertising in the Yellow Pages has been replaced by online forums. Electronic mail is replacing “regular” mail.  Electronic filing is replacing paper filing. Indeed, depending on your law practice, it is now possible to have completely electronic ― that is, paperless ― files. Technology and social media are constantly changing and evolving. Consequently, our law practices, and the rules governing them, are also constantly changing and evolving.

Technological advances undoubtedly enhance our business and networking. They allow us to reach more people in a faster amount of time, and we can share information with clients or colleagues in the blink of an eye. For example, with the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s Lawyer magazine, pictures from events are immediately posted to our Facebook page. Members can view them instantly without having to wait for the written publication.

Additionally, electronic databases allow us to access stored information from anywhere in the world. We can now file a document with the court without ever leaving our seat. We can advertise our services to millions of people with a well-placed online advertisement or get access to thousands of potential employers by uploading a resume to one of the Internet job forums or using a LinkedIn profile.
Technology and social media are powerful tools.

However, as has been cautioned throughout history ― with great power comes great responsibility. This rings especially true with technological advances and social media.  Navigating the potential pitfalls of evolving technology can be daunting. The Florida Bar is just starting to scratch the surface in dealing with the landmine of advertising legal services on social media. The procedural and evidentiary rules governing e-discovery are developing every day. Countless articles are being written about protecting a client’s privacy when storing data and information on the “cloud.”

It can be difficult to not only stay abreast of the new technology but also the rules and regulations governing it as they apply to the practice of law. While utilizing social media and technological advances becomes increasingly important, so does the responsibility of using it prudently and with care.

I will be the first to admit that it is not easy to take full advantage of all that these advances have to offer. For example, I dictated the outline of this Editor's Message on my iPhone’s voice memo while waiting at my daughter’s volleyball practice, but then I spent an inefficient five minutes trying to find where it was saved so that I could replay it. I am not alone (hello to those of you who still use the physical case reporters and digests). But at the Lawyer magazine, we strive not only to use technological advances and social media to bring information to you, but also to keep you apprised of some of the ever-changing rules and regulations. Enjoy the February publication!