People’s willingness to disclose personal information on social media can be particularly helpful in the discovery phase of litigation. Snooping on opposing parties, witnesses or jurors through social media can provide a treasure-trove of information that might have once taken a private investigator months to obtain. However, lawyers need to be aware of the emerging ethical violations that could result from their online sleuthing activities.
Before Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct addressing communication with non-clients has less room for interpretation. For example, Model Rule 4.2 advises that “a lawyer shall not communicate with a person known to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has consent or is authorized to do so by law.”1
Trying to interpret how social media’s communication features […]