Multi-Language Legal Translation Services, Attorney Ethics and Social Media

Professional foreign language translation services come in handy when blogging in a foreign language. It is also important for attorneys to consider including an English translation of their foreign language blog posts so it is clear to all readers that no ethical rules are being compromised.

The ABA has yet to issue an official stance on the use of social media by attorneys (blogging, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc), but there are inherent ethical issues in the platforms. According to a recent article in the ABA Journal by Steven Seidenberg, the purpose of social media is to attract readers – and the best way to attract readers is through interesting content. In the newspaper and magazine world, this is done through sensationalism – which is exactly where social media can become an ethical dilemma for attorneys.

As an example, the article includes three (somewhat extreme) examples of lawyers getting in trouble for their use of social media:

  • Florida Attorney Sean Conway, in a effort to expose what he thought was the denial of a right to a speedy trial, blogged that Broward County Court Judge Cheryl Alemán is an “evil, unfair witch,” “seemingly mentally ill” and “clearly unfit for her position and knows not what it means to be a neutral arbiter.”
  • Illinois Attorney Kristine A. Peshek’s revealing confidential client information while blogging about cases she was working on cost Peshek her job as an assistant public defender in Illinois.
  • North Carolina Judge Carlton Terry Jr. was publicly reprimanded by the state’s Judicial Standards Commission because Terry, after becoming a Facebook friend of an attorney appearing in a case before the judge, exchanged Facebook comments with the attorney regarding the proceeding before the judge.

The question raised in the article is whether or not specific rules for governing social media usage by attorneys are needed. However, it seems that the current ethical rules are broad enough to cover clearly inappropriate use of the mediums (as seen in the above examples). So the bottom line is, if using social media, make sure all content and use complies with the basic rules of ethics. This pertains to foreign language content which for liability purposes requires professional translation,

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by Legal Translator & Court Interpreter

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