We’ve blogged about legal document translation services, employment law and social media. Social networks can be a double edged sword for monolingual and multilingual attorneys – there are many benefits but also many areas that may raise ethical issues. For example, when one is using a social network like LinkedIn, can a judge and a lawyer become ‘linked’?
There is also the issue of when and where social media can be used for investigative and/or evidentiary purposes. Can an attorney have an investigator go to someone’s Facebook page and friend them in order to get information? The police are doing it, but what about defense investigators or prosecutors? And what about jurors and jury influence? This shows that there are still many unanswered questions regarding the use of social media and the law – meaning that this area is a potential ethics minefield.
But on the other side of the coin is the lawyer’s duty to get information and to represent their client to the fullest extent of the law. If they know relevant information is available on a social network, is an attorney ethically obligated to obtain it? Where is the line between the ethical obligation to get information and unethical tactics for getting this same information? And what if the social media information is in a foreign language – is the attorney obligated to get a foreign language translation to judge its usability? What if the attorney only realizes the ethical questions surrounding the evidence after the translation of social media messages is provided?
In summary, the area of social media and the law is still very gray – at best – so tread carefully.