Practice Your Social Media

     Good news!
     You can spend most of your day on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and a variety of naked-human sites of which I know nothing (really, I don’t – you believe me, don’t you?) and still make a living as an attorney.
     There are lawyers specializing in social media.
     (I’m chuckling to myself. I love this concept.)
     See, for example, a recent blog by a couple of lawyers in a major firm’s “social media practice group.”
     Now picture how that group must practice.
     OK, it’s a whole new electronic world out there and finding party pictures on Instagram for witness impeachment could be really valuable.
     But I do have questions.
     For example, how does one qualify for membership in a firm’s social media department? Where does one pick up the vital skills?
     I haven’t been to law school for several centuries, but I’m pretty sure there is no Lurking-101 course in most schools.
     My guess is that new associates who look like they’re working but never seem able to finish a project or provide billing are top candidates for the social media department.
     But now we’re being told (see the aforementioned blog, for example) that not scouring social media on behalf of a client could be seen as legal malpractice.
     Yikes! Lawyers are being forced to pore over vacation pictures, cat videos, and political rants!
     If nothing else, there could be a looming lawyer mental health crisis here.
     The upside is that billable research should skyrocket. You don’t want to be guilty of social media malpractice.
     Be aware, however, that there’s a flip side to this specialty. You need to be able to advise clients how to avoid damaging their legal positions on the Internet.
     What you should probably tell them is to throw away all their computers.
     
     Calculating Damages: Damage calculations are a difficult and often value-laden process.
     For example, what’s the reputational cost difference between hard core and soft core?
     This is not a hypothetical. A woman last week filed a federal suit in Los Angeles asking for $3 million because her photo was used to illustrate a story about a hard-core porn performer who tested positive for the HIV virus.
     The plaintiff was not the performer discussed in the story.
     That sounds pretty bad and the HIV part of it is probably defamatory – but the complaint goes on to discuss the plaintiff’s career as “the most downloaded woman on the Internet” who, among other things, founded a “pioneering soft-core adult entertainment web site.”
     Pioneering has pretty much gone downhill since settlers reached California.
     Apparently, nudity and sex that you can’t quite see completely is significantly nobler than nudity and sex you can see in detail.
     By the way, this is a heartwarming American success story. According to the complaint, the plaintiff, one Leah Manzari aka Danni Ashe, designed the web site in 1995 “within two weeks of reading the HTML Manual of Style” and was making millions of dollars in profits within a few years.
     This is why that manual was written.
     But what makes this site so special?
     I’m not sure, because I didn’t sign up after looking at the site’s “Real. Sexy” front page, but one item did catch my eye: “Community: Danni is a community not just a porn site. Meet the models and chat with them during our live shows.”
     Because the main thing guys want to do is have interesting conversations with the naked ladies.

     More Long Bitching:
OK, I admit it – I’m obsessed with the new Long Beach Courthouse.
     It’s just so entertaining.
     I went back last week and waited while a woman with a baby carriage went through the security checkpoint in front of me. Then I heard one of the guards ask another guard if it was all right to bring in baby food in a jar.
     Apparently he wasn’t up on the latest TSA rules.
     If the place looks like an airport, those rules ought to apply.
     I also forgot to mention the acoustics last week. Whoever designed this place apparently forgot to think about that. When you walk into one of the mostly glass-enclosed clerk’s offices, the sound of the line – even a small line – is seriously amplified.
     It’s like one of those fancy restaurants where you can barely hear the person across the table from you. Except here you can barely hear the clerk six inches in front of your face.
     In most cases, this is just as well.
     But even though you’re drowning in unintelligible sound, at least you can watch the high-definition monitor suspended above showing a short rotation of oddly random ads.
     One for designer water. One for a “Street Fighter” video game. And one for the Maserati Gran Turismo.
     I looked at the crowd around me in the “family/probate” section where they keep the civil files. I couldn’t picture any of them running out to buy a Maserati.
     Someone may want to reconsider the target audience.
     Then there’s the piece of vaguely ironic symbolism in front of the building – four giant cement and mutant honeycomb-metal columns that you might think are pillars.
     They’re lovely.
     They don’t hold anything up.

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