Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

We’re Launching a New Facebook Page for Washington, D.C.

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

Washington, D.C. - D.C. Court of Appeals Building

By: Brian Nash, Editor 

We are very pleased to announce the launching of our new Facebook page, DC Eye Opener. For the many thousands of readers who have read our posts in Eye Opener over the past twenty or so months, we want to let you know that we will be continuing to post there as well.

Our blawgers have been posting articles and commentaries on issues relating to health, law and medicine for almost two years now. We have had over 150,000 visitors to our site since our inception. We thank each and every one of you who have stopped by and read our posts – particular thanks to our many subscribers.

So Why Washington, D.C.?

Well, the answer is quite simple – it’s one of the primary places where we practice law.

I moved from New Jersey to Washington, D.C. in 1965 and attended The Catholic University of America in Northeast D.C. While in college, I worked at the Safeway on 12th Street (sadly no longer there) as a grocery clerk and produce man, just up the road from Turkey Thicket and Providence Hospital. After I graduated from CUA, I taught for two years at Bullis Prep in Potomac, Maryland. I attended law school at the Columbus School of Law (Catholic University Law School) and obtained my Juris Doctor in 1974. I was admitted to the D.C. bar in 1976, two years after being admitted to the Maryland bar. I have been trying cases in the District of Columbia ever since. Frankly, I’ve lost track of the number of cases I’ve handled in D.C. over the years. There have been so many trials in the local and federal courtrooms of Washington, D.C. that some suggested I give up my office space and simply take up residence in the hallways of the Superior Court or in the federal district court across the street.

A number of the lawyers I began practicing with have now become judges on the Superior Court and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. A few of my former law partners have donned the black robe and have made quite a career for themselves in the Superior Court. I am proud and pleased to call them my colleagues and my friends.

During the early part of my career, I represented numerous D.C. individuals, corporations and healthcare providers as a defense lawyer. As you can no doubt tell from our website, we are now representing people injured through the wrongdoing of others. It has been a wonderful journey, which continues on. Our lawyers at Nash & Associates, Marian, Mike, Jon and Jason, are all admitted to the District of Columbia bar as well as the Maryland bar. (Sarah Keogh is presently admitted to the Maryland bar only – we’re working on her to add D.C. to her impeccable credentials.) Simply put – the District of Columbia is our turf. One of our offices is located on Connecticut Avenue, N.W., just a half a block from the Red Line’s Farragut North Station on Connecticut and K Streets, N.W.

So Why the New Facebook Page for D.C.?

What we have seen and learned in our social media activities of blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is that our message can become diluted through worldwide distribution. We decided we needed to narrow our audience. Put another way, so many times we wanted to post information about what’s happening in law, medicine and health in the District of Columbia, but when your readers are from around the globe, there’s not much interest in the message and information if it’s just about Washington, D.C. Now we want to share our message and get to know you, who live and work in the District of Columbia. Frankly, our readers throughout the United States – “outside the Beltway“ as they say – don’t really care much about what’s happening in D.C.  Well we do and we know you do too!

Our Mission

Simply put, we’re going to bring you information that we hope will keep you informed about topics such as your health, trends in medicine, the laws that may affect you, what’s happening on the legal front in the areas of our expertise (negligence, medical malpractice and the like) and some postings about what’s happening around the city from our legal eye perspective. Our goal is to interact with you, have some fun, provide some useful information – all the things that social media is designed to do and has been doing so well for years now.

For those in the Twitterverse, we’ll soon be launching our new Twitter name/location. Collectively, our tweeps at Nash & Associates have over 5,000 followers. We should have our DC Twitter page up and running this week – we’ll post that new location here. In the meantime, if you want to connect on Twitter, we’re waiting to make your acquaintance at NashLawFirm.

Let’s connect! We’ve met so many great people and businesses on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. We hope to soon count you among our friends and followers.

So, HELLO and WELCOME, D.C. – glad we finally get to share, meet and connect with you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

For close to two years now, our blawgers have been bringing

 

Photo from loringengineers.com

 

Week in Review: (May 22 – 28, 2011) The Eye Opener Health, Law and Medicine Blog

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

From the Editor – Brian Nash

Last week’s posts by our blawgers were packed with information about a variety of topics ranging from the medicine you need to know about concussions, living with cancer, cerebral palsy resources and the potential risks of overdosing your child with medications.

On the legal front, we began a series I’m personally excited about. We call it Legal Boot Camp. It will be a series for those in our practice jurisdictions of Maryland and Washington, D.C. Our teacher’s face is on – lesson plans in place. We hope you learn some things about the laws that can affect your lives in the areas of personal injury – particularly medical malpractice law.  Our first class took place with a piece by Sarah Keogh that examines the law in Maryland on the right to claim loss/diminished earning capacity. If you’re wondering if you can have such a claim even if you weren’t working when you were injured, Sarah has some information for you. Check it out. Turn in your class card and have some fun.

We wrapped up the week with a piece by yours truly on a wonderful community outreach program by our local baseball heroes, the Baltimore Orioles. Aptly named – OriolesREACH, this initiative has a number of wonderful events, charities and missions that are worth knowing about. One in particular, Shannon’s Fund, is a great program to help those in need while dealing with the financial burdens while dealing with cancer. It is run by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Read about our challenge to our brethren before the bar in the Greater Baltimore Area.

Without further ado, here are the blogs we posted this past week …. and a sneak peak of the week ahead.

Concussions: The Message of Brian Roberts’ Injury Should Not Go Unheeded

Posted by Brian Nash

Anyone who follows sports is well aware that finally the old school mentality of “gut it out and get back in there” following blows to the head are coming (not too soon) to an end. Committees have been formed, articles written and the national spotlight of the media have finally focused on this issue. Those recommendations, debates and guidelines are beyond the scope of this post. Nevertheless, those involved in sports…Read more >

Children’s Medications: Coming Changes and Tips to Avoid Overdose

Posted by Sarah Keogh

My children are both young; the youngest is now a little past her second birthday. In the last few years, we have had both infant and children medication in the house, liquid and tablets, and I have been very careful to make sure to double-check myself if I ever have to medicate either child to make sure that I am reading the correct dosing matrix for the correct concentration and for the correct child. More often than not, I have found that children need medication when their parents are tired. As parents know – children frequently…Read more >

 

Living With Cancer: What to Expect After the Diagnosis

Posted by Jon Stefanuca

About a million and a half people will be diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. this year. The devastating truth about cancer is that about one-third of these people will die from cancer at some point. For most, the diagnosis is unexpected and completely overwhelming.The cancer does not just affect how one feels, it undermines all sense of security and stability. It changes lifestyles and redefines relationships. So often the emotional trauma is equally shared among family members and loved ones. Read more >

New Blog Series: Legal Boot Camp

Posted by Brian Nash

I’m really pleased to announce a new series we’re starting today. If you’re a reader of our blog, you know that we post numerous times a week on health, safety, medicine and related law topics. That’s what we do in our firm – we represent people who are injured by the negligence of health care providers and those who suffer catastrophic injuries in non-medical settings as well. So, sharing what we believe is some good information about medical, health and safety issues is our mission. We strongly believe that our social networking should be about giving good information, engaging in dialogue about relevant issues – just plain good, old sharing. Read more >

Legal Boot Camp (First Class): The Story of Pam – Maryland’s Law on Loss of Earning Capacity

Posted by Sarah Keogh

A 41-year-old woman, Pam, who was laid off from her job as a swimming instructor and swim coach in December of 2009, has been struggling to find a new position for the last few years. Even though Pam had been working as a swimming instructor full-time for the past 18 years, she felt that she needed to jump into a new career while waiting to find a new position as a swimming instructor and coach. Starting in October of 2010, her father died leaving her a rundown home that he had recently purchased with the intent of renovating it. Pam felt that she could put her physical fitness and knowledge of home aesthetics to work, not to mention the ideas she picked up watching renovations shows while unemployed, by renovating the home her father left… Read more >

Dealing with Cerebral Palsy: A Resource for Parents and Family

Posted by Jason Penn

Today’s society has become increasingly dependent on aggregators. We use a variety of methods to assemble and sort information so that we can easily consume it.  Mint.com and Quicken help with our finances and Google Reader helps to manage our online content. A quick search of the internet suggests that the parents of children withcerebral palsy do not yet have an objective aggregator of information to turn to.  Let’s consider this our attempt to provide parents in the Baltimore and Washington D.C. areas with a place to turn. Read more >

Charity Begins at Home: OriolesREACH Program Hits a Grand Slam with Us!

Posted by Brian Nash

I recently wrote a post about our local area charities and civic organizations who do so much for so many in our community. With that in mind, as I was happily reading the sports page in the warm glow of the Orioles’ 12th inning victory yesterday (5 in a row – Go O’s), I came across a piece about a new initiative for our military personnel by the Birds. While looking at the details of this worthy program, I noticed (ashamedly for the first time, I admit) a host of community programs being run by the Orioles. The team uses the name OriolesREACH for the community programs they sponsor, promote or fund. Read more >

Sneak Peak of the Week Ahead

Here’s a sampling of what’s coming next week on The Eye Opener: Views and Opinions from the Nash Community:

  • As families prepare for the upcoming holidays and summer vacation, Theresa Neumann has some important medical advice about what else needs to be included in your travel plans.
  • Legal Boot Camp: Prepare for our second class – get those pencils, pens, iPads and whatever else you need out and ready – there could be a pop quiz on next week’s primary on law.
  • What rights do babies-before-birth (fetal rights) have in our legal system? Do parents who lose a child just before birth have any rights of recovery? You’ll find out next week.
  • Home births are on the rise. Is that a good or a bad thing? Sarah Keogh weighs in on that issue in the coming edition of The Eye Opener

And….maybe even more to come…you can never tell….

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend. Best to All of You and Your Families and Friends from All of Us at Nash & Associates

Charity begins at home: OriolesREACH program hits a grand slam with us!

Friday, May 27th, 2011

I recently wrote a post about our local area charities and civic organizations who do so much for so many in our community. With that in mind, as I was happily reading the sports page in the warm glow of the Orioles’ 12th inning victory yesterday (5 in a row – Go O’s), I came across a piece about a new initiative for our military personnel by the Birds. While looking at the details of this worthy program, I noticed (ashamedly for the first time, I admit) a host of community programs being run by the Orioles. The team uses the name OriolesREACH for the community programs they sponsor, promote or fund.

Image from Orioles.com - REACH programs

Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation

Here’s the blurb about this Foundation on the O’s website Orioles.com:

The Baltimore Orioles Charitable Foundation and the Baltimore Orioles, Inc., support many civic and charitable organizations with the goal of enriching the lives of fans throughout Birdland. Since the ownership group led by Peter Angelos purchased the team, the Baltimore Orioles have donated more than $10 million to support various organizations in the community.

In addition to these donations, we all know that the O’s players, coaches and personnel are out in our community giving of their time and money to so many great causes. Of course, it’s not only our Birds who do so much for our community, our Ravens, among many others, are right there with them front and center as well. Kudos to all of you!

Shannon’s Fund

Among the many worthwhile causes and programs, I took note of one in particular that resonated with me – Shannon’s Fund. While you can certainly click on the link I just provided, here’s a  short summary of what this fund is all about:

Shannon Obaker from Orioles.com

In 2008, the Orioles and OriolesREACH established Shannon’s Fund, a $50,000 endowment at the University of Maryland Medical Center to provide financial assistance to hospital patients and their families. Created in memory of Shannon Obaker – the team’s Director of Community Outreach who bravely fought cancer for over a year before passing away in 2007 at age 29 – Shannon’s Fund is administered by the University of Maryland Medical Center. Funds are donated to patients and their family members as need arises to assist with the general expenses associated with the treatment process, including hospital parking, alternate housing, food costs and household bills.

A wonderful program indeed! Have you ever known a family in need of help with the expenses associated with medical care? If you’re old enough to read this, I suspect the answer is “yes.”

Ironic – I think not!

So why would a lawyer who makes a living suing medical care providers for patients injured by medical negligence be promoting a fund administered by a local area hospital whom he has sued on more than one occasion? Maybe you can ask Mr. Angelos the same question. His generosity in charitable gifts, time and resources in this community is legendary.

The two principles are really not conflicting. If a health care provider causes injury to a patient through wrongdoing, redress in the form of proper compensation to the victim of that malpractice is absolutely the good and proper result – a good and worthy cause. If a health care provider, who does so much good for so many people as a general rule, organizes, runs and promotes a worthy community program such as Shannon’s Fund, that is also a good and worthy cause to promote! Simply put – in my humble opinion – it’s all about doing the right thing in different ways.

So….with that in mind, I’m here today to promote the OriolesREACH programs and more specifically, among them,  Shannon’s Fund.

A Call to Action – to All – but particularly Lawyers in Baltimore

Starting today, our firm will be making regular contributions to Shannon’s Fund. We will be adding it to the list of community outreach programs we are involved with throughout the year – not just during the baseball season.

Since lawyers are said to like a challenge or two, we’re issuing a challenge to our fellow friends and lawyers in the Greater Baltimore Area to join us in helping fund this program at the University of Maryland Medical Center. We’ll even make it easy for you – here’s the link for online donations provided by our Birds – Donate to Shannon’s Fund.

Best of luck and continued success to the Orioles in all of their community outreach programs. Well done… and if you could just make baseball fun in September again (or maybe even October), that would be great too!

 

Social Media and Spreading the Word about Those Who Do So Much Good for Those in Need

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Recently my wife and I attended an event held by a newly formed Baltimore organization known as Rebels with a Cause. Frankly, I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of this organization before. According to the event flyer published by the person we are sponsoring, this is a local group of bicycle riders who are joining the Ride for a Feast 140 mile bike ride from Ocean City to Baltimore, MD. (Whew! Glad I’m only a sponsor).

Saturday night came and we traveled to Gertrude’s, a restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art which provided the venue for a pre-event gathering of this group of dedicated, good-cause-driven riders. A ticket was reasonably priced, but the better news was that all money collected from those attending was being given to Moveable Feast.

Now I had even more “research” to do – what is Moveable Feast (yes, that’s the correct spelling), I wondered. Turns out, it’s a great organization with the following mission:

People with AIDS and other life-challenging conditions often become caught in a vicious cycle of poor appetite and physical weakness that prevents them from providing adequate meals for themselves.

That’s why we’re here – to help. To provide nutritious, free meals and other services to people who are sick and need our support.

The charity’s mission is for those with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. What a fabulous idea and a worthy cause!

I’m not only writing this piece to let others know about these two organizations, I wanted to share some thoughts about charities, community service programs and social media/the internet.

Yes, there are a vast number of great charities in our country alone. According to one published article, in 2010, there were 1,014,816, of which 507,603 had filed with the IRS. By anyone’s count, that’s a lot of charities. Keep in mind, this is only the number of charities in our country. This doesn’t take into account how many community or social service organizations – that are not charities within the definition of this term – exist throughout our land. I did a quick Google search using the terms “Baltimore community service organizations” and found one site containing 436 directory listings. Granted a number of  these are also “charities,” but not all. I don’t even have a clue how to tabulate the number of such community service organizations there are in this country. Finally, I wondered, what about all of the church-sponsored organizations or hospital-based organizations that offer comfort, assistance and guidance to those in various states of need. You get the idea – the number nationwide must be incredible.

What does this have to do with lawyers on Facebook, Twitter and the Internet?

Just a little over a year ago, our firm ventured into the murky waters of blogging and social media. We fumbled and bumbled around trying to figure out how this was supposed to bring clients to our door so that we represent those with valid cases. As time passed and I started to observe more than tweet and post, I began to realize that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are about people connecting with people and those like LinkedIn are wonderful B2B sites.

Having recognized the power of Facebook and Twitter to spread the word on what we know and write about (law, health, medicine, safety, etc.), we stopped posting rehashes of legal rulings, medical malpractice verdicts, and the like and started to publish content loaded with information about “trying to get the word out so you never need a guy like me.” I self-described my social media profile persona as a “Newbie but lover of Blogging on tips n’ tricks (and other stuff) to wisely use healthcare.” Frankly, the readership response has been so rewarding it’s hard to describe. The fact that we are now exceeding 10,000 visitors a month to our site with almost 18,000 pages viewed is beyond our wildest dreams.

Alright – it seems like we may be getting a better idea of the role of social media and how we might be able to “give back” to our community on both a local and national level. As I’ve learned, however, you can’t just “live on the internet.” You need person-to-person contact and involvement.

A new project is being announced

We’re just at the initial phase of our new project; however, we got some really involved, dedicated folks here at the firm. Our current plans include identifying some events we can promote and be personally involved with – yes, even if it means we’ve got to get away from the law books and our computers and get “out there” in the non-digital world to lend support and a helping hand when we can.

Soon we’ll be announcing more details of our community (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.) plans for action.

This fall, there’s an event known as the Race for the Cure. We’ll be throwing our hat in the ring and trying to get our own backers so that we can collect money for this worthy cause. We’re working on a project to help the kids in Baltimore in a civic organization that has been around for years. Frankly, there’s a whole list of projects we now have underway. More announcements to come in the weeks and months ahead.

As lawyers we get to help individuals and their families when they have been injured by the fault of others. That’s been one way to give back to our communities. Now we are going to add to those efforts on a broader community scale. We’re excited about all of the projects and look forward to sharing more with you in future posts.

Jann Rosen-Queralt - Our Rebel With a Cause

One final note

A big congratulations is in order for all those many volunteers out there in our communities.

On a personal note, congratulations and good luck to our own Rebel with a Cause, Jann Rosen-Queralt, whom we’re sponsoring in the upcoming Ride for a Feast.

Jann has collected thousands of dollars in sponsorship contributions. She and her group of “Rebels” are wonderfully giving of their time and energy in the promotion of this incredible cause.

We wish her and all the participants in the Ride Good Luck and safe travels.

 





 

Image from: ourladyofpeaceschool.net

Gratitude: We just topped 8,000 monthly readers – Thanks so much!

Saturday, April 16th, 2011

When we started our blog about 15 months ago, we were hoping that someone – other than our relatives and friends – would come and read our posts. I’m sitting at my computer working on a blog for this coming week and decided I would check our Google Analytics to see how we were doing in trying to get our message out there. Well here’s today’s stats -

Nash & Associates stats via Google Analytics - April 15, 2011

The only words that came to mind when I saw that we had just topped 8,000 visits and almost 11, 500 pages viewed by those visitors over the last 30 days were – and are – THANK YOU!

Yes, I fully realize that these are statistics that apply to our website, but a very large number of these visits are due to folks coming to read our blogs and then checking us out or looking at some other other “stuff” on our website. No – we’re not yet ranked among the big boys or women bloggers, but the numbers tell us that we’re not doing too bad a job either. We’ll just liken ourselves to Avis and keep trying harder.

Almost a year ago, I figured out that if we were ever going to increase our website “hits,” we needed to make our blog, which was sitting on WordPress.com, a subdomain of our website. So, with the help of our “website guy,” we moved the blog over to WordPress.org and voila – the visits started growing immediately.

We – as a law firm – wondered how we could not only market our firm but also how we might be able to actually contribute to our community. As I have said in the past, who really wants to connect with lawyers or a law firm on social media channels? As my wife so aptly likened such a venture – “Who wants to connect with a mortician – unless you need one?” Smart person, my wife.

We ventured into the world of social media via Facebook and Twitter. We initially did the standard lawyer stuff of trying to tell our vast following of about 25 people (yes – our relatives and a few invited but brow-beaten friends) just how wonderful we were as a law firm. Then – after reading a ton of posts by social media gurus and blogging experts – we started to figure out the answer. Notice – I did say “started” – we have a long way to go admittedly.

Blogging by lawyers and socializing via channels such as Facebook and Twitter as a group of lawyers has to be about our readers, friends, fans and followers. We’re still working on it – but at least it seems a good number of people – like YOU (since you must be reading this) are looking for information that can help YOU.

We now have over 500 Fans on our Facebook business page, just under 2,500 followers on our firm’s Twitter page and now – as I learned today – over 8,000 monthly visitors to our website – primarily reading our blog! We just want to say THANK YOU to all of you. You have made the hard times of doing blogging and engaging in social media in the midst of a very busy law practice a rewarding, enriching and wonderful experience. Your loyalty and – yes – friendship – have been a fabulous motivating force to keep all of us going.

We are constantly searching to find new and exciting information in the world of law and medicine. As I wrote in our Twitter profile – I – and my team at Nash & Associates are just -

Lawyer[s] trying to get the word out so you never need [people] like us. Newbie[s] but lover[s] of Blogging on tips n’ tricks (and other stuff) to wisely use healthcare.

That’s why we blog, tweet and post on Facebook. Sure – if you need us (and hopefully you don’t) – we’re here for our local friends, fans and readers in the Baltimore-Washington area. But even more important – we will try to reward your loyalty and friendship with our best efforts to provide you with news, insights, tips and tricks and whatever other good stuff we can muster over the coming weeks, months and years to come.

If at any time you want to drop us a message on what YOU would like for us to write about, we would most certainly appreciate any suggestions you may have. Just drop us a line via Facebook, a direct message on Twitter or through our website’s contact form. Your thoughts and suggestions on how we can accomplish our mission and better connect with you will always be most welcomed and appreciated.

So – again – THANKS to all of you who make and take the time to read what we have to write. Don’t forget to hit the comment button and share YOUR thoughts with us and our other readers as well.

Brian Nash – Editor-in-Chief of Eye Opener – Views and Opinions from the Nash Community

The 22Tweets Interview Experience: An Invaluable Lesson Learned

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Some weeks ago, I was contacted by Lance Godard of The Godard Group, who asked if I would be interested in being interviewed live on 22Tweets at some future date. The concept of the show is for Lance to provide a forum, using the concept of a Twitter mash-up, for lawyers who tweet to tell their story “one tweet at a time.”

We were able to coordinate a date and the interview took place this past Tuesday. As you might expect, the interviewee is presented with twenty-two questions by Lance. The questions and responses are presented in live streaming format on Twitter.

For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, your message is limited to 140 characters, which is somewhat of an oxymoron – lawyers limiting their world-shaking thoughts to just 140 characters?!

Getting ready for the big day, I studied some of Lance’s interviews with other lawyers. Sweat broke out on my brow. I wondered – how do you answer questions such as these:

  • Tell us about your law practice
  • Tell us about the clients you represent. Who are they?
  • Why do your clients hire you?
  • What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?

If that wasn’t bad enough, I then was queried about the following:

  • Your firm has a blog, Eye Opener (http://bit.ly/bqnokj). Who is it for? Why should they read it?
  • In addition to the blog, you’re active on Twitter and have a Facebook page. What’s your social media strategy?

Try it some time. Figure out what you do, how you do it, and then the biggest question of all – why you do what you do – all in roughly 140 characters!

After the panic subsided, I started to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity this whole process was – no, not just for exposure or for “getting the word out” about our firm, our philosophy and the like. I had to truly reach into the core of our firm, our clients and our soul to answer Lance Godard’s 22 questions.

Fortunately, a few days before going live on 22Tweets, I happened across a video presentation by Simon Sinek on TED entitled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

Find about 18 minutes of time and watch this inspirational piece. You won’t be disappointed.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Sinek has created a construct known as the “golden circle.” He asks, why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care about your organization? What do Apple, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King have in common?

He effectively argues that people respond to the why of what you do. People want to do business with those who are able to “communicate from the inside out” – the why is shared with them, and they respond if the why resonates with them. He then warns – if you don’t know why you do what you do, then why would people want to hire you or be inspired by you.

Other gurus in fields such as marketing, branding and the like talk about “defining your goals” and “identifying your niche.” Sounds like the same why question, doesn’t it?

Thankful to people like Simon Sinek, who made me consider the why of what we do, I began my quest to define our why so that I could respond to my upcoming 22 questions.

Lance Godard and 22Tweets were really the ones who forced me to step back and think about issues I should have be contemplating for some time now. I will be forever grateful to him and 22Tweets for doing so. Whether I was able to communicate “our why,” I leave that to others to judge. I only know I will continue to consider some of those 22 questions and try to figure out as best I can – why we do what we do at Nash & Associates. Hopefully we will get a better understanding of ourselves and our clients as we explore and better answer that question.

I hope you in the legal profession get the opportunity that was afforded to us by Lance Godard of 22Tweets. We will always be thankful to him and his group for that wonderful opportunity to get to know ourselves more so that we can serve our clients better.

Cyber-bullying: With digital age comes digital crime

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Update (Brian Nash): This morning, May 23, 2011, I saw a tweet linking to news that First Lady, Michelle Obama, is joining Maryland’s Judge O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown in a visit this week to a local Maryland school, Central Middle School in Edgewater, to get the word out on an anti-bullying campaign.

Great work and an important message that needs to keep being delivered! The President and First Lady are using Facebook to get their anti-bullying message out there as well.

Wanting to do my (little) part in getting this message out there, I thought I’d re-post this blog from last November for those who may have missed it on the first time. Spread the word; let’s give a hand to all who work so hard to rid society of this dangerous blight.

Original Post:

Digital media is everywhere, and social networking is totally “in” among our youth as well as adults.  As with every advancement in technology, one is faced with the new problems that accompany that technology. With the advent of personal computers, “hacking” became the big cyber-crime followed by sexual predation.  There have been a multitude of movies in which the plots focus on computer-hacking or on-line dating, and there are plenty of songs referencing cell phones and on-line technology.

We are in the digital age, and with that we are experiencing new and more ominous digital crime that is involving our youth and resulting in the premature death of beloved children.

October, 2006, Megan Meier (age 14) committed suicide after being bullied on MySpace by a supposed friend and the friend’s mother.  In June of 2008, Tomohiro Kato rented a truck and drove into the crowded “geek district” of Tokyo where he proceeded to stab 17 unknown people, killing 7 and injuring 10, because he was being harassed on-line for his ideas and electronic postings on social websites.  This year, beginning in January, a beautiful 15 year-old Irish immigrant, Phoebe Prince, committed suicide after being blatantly harassed by her peers, both outwardly in school and on-line, in Massachusettes.  Two months later, on March 21, 2010, Alexis Pilkington (17yrs) committed suicide after being harassed on a social networking site; she was a good student and soccer “star” in Long Island who had received a college scholarship for soccer.  On September 9, 2010, Billy Lucas, a 15-year-old Indiana student, committed suicide after being blatantly harassed on-line and in school for presumed homosexuality.  The most recent case involved a Rutgers University student, Tyler Clementi (18yrs); he committed suicide after his college roommate illegally videotaped a homosexual encounter and posted it on the internet.  These are a few of the more publicized cases, but, cyber-bullying is much more pervasive in our youth.

Each of these cases represents an unnecessary loss of life prompted by children or young adults, facilitated by the use of digital technology.  The hatefulness and utter meanness of the offending children is astounding.  Bullying has been around for ages, and unfortunately, it is part of human nature, evolution and survival of the fittest.  The problem has become the pervasiveness of digital media in our lives, the anonymnity allowed by it and the ease and speed of which information can be disseminated world-wide.  It used to be that the bullying could be left on the playground at school, and/or that school administrators were more apt to intervene if approached with the problem; neither of these conditions seem to exist anymore.  Compound these issues with the virtual isolation these digital media promote, the often-times dysfunctional family unit (divorce, re-marriage, single-parenting, and even the need for both parents to work full-time), the relative independence of our youth, and the relative insensitivity of our youth to violence and sexually explicit material.

Steve Williams posted an article about Billy Lucas’ death on the organization, Care 2 Make a Difference (www.care2.com) which sited the following statistics related to suicide from the Trevor Project:

  • In the United States, more than 34,000 people die by suicide each year (2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC).
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, accounting for over 12% of deaths in this age group; only accidents and homicide occur more frequently (2006 National Adolescent Health Information).
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death on college campuses (2008 CDC).
  • For every completed suicide by a young person, it is estimated that 100 to 200 attempts are made (2003 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey).
  • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers (Massachusetts 2007 Youth Risk Survey).
  • More than 1/3 of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt (D’Augelli AR - Clinical Child Psychiatry and Psychology 2002)
  • Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt (Grossman AH, D’Augelli AR - Suicide and Life Threatening Behavior2007)
  • Questioning youth who are less certain of their sexual orientation report even higher levels of substance abuse and depressed thoughts than their heterosexual or openly LGBT-identified peers (Poteat VP, Aragon SR, et al – Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology2009)

Children in this age group, despite their outward mature appearance in today’s world, remain emotionally and intellectually immature.  The teenage human body goes through enormous hormonal changes during this period which compounds emotional lability.  The onslaught of hurtful and demoralizing comments, whether by text-messaging, emails, or social networking sites, can be quite devastating to one’s sense of self and integrity.  The speed at which such information, whether true or false, can disseminate and build momentum amongst peer groups can become overwhelming for the immature psyche, while suggestions to “kill yourself” or threats of murderous intent might just push that individual “over the edge”.

Just last week, Medscape posted an interview with  Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, MD, FAAP, (a pediatrician, health journalist, chief executive officer of Pediatrics Now (www.pediatricsnow.com), an online health and communications company, and the author of Cybersafe: Protecting and Empowering Digital Kids in the World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media ). In the interview, Dr. O’Keeffe defined cyber-bullying, offering suggestions for parents and even medical health providers for monitoring child behaviors and usage of these digital medias, as well as the effects on the individual’s psyche.  Legislation is being discussed on ways to punish these crimes, but the first-line protection begins in the home.  The Massachusettes Attorney General’s Office also displays a page on its website devoted to the topic; it is unclear whether this appeared before or after the Phoebe Prince tragedy, but it is there nonetheless.  One can only hope that changes can be made before those suicide statistics increase exponentially.

I leave you with one of my childhood teachings that I only wish was held in high regard in today’s society:  ”If you cannot say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”

Related Post (update):

I also came across a post entitled Stopping Cyberbullying: Who’s Responsible? – Interesting read!

Credit to news.cnet.com for photo

Social Media Platforms: Are they really for Lawyers or just People who are Lawyers?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Lawyers and social networking platforms really don’t seem to fit together very well – do they? Many lawyers stumble into social networking simply because they attended some seminar or read some article or blog that told them they are behind the eight ball if their firm is not engaging in social network marketing. “Print media advertising is a thing of the past – get on board with the new marketing of the 21st Century – the internet and social media channels!”

It’s exactly this concept of using social media channels only as a marketing tool that leads to what we see today in places like Twitter and Facebook. Just type in #lawyer, #legal or #attorney in your Twitter search bar and see what you get. Here are some really socially-driven and engaging tweets:

  • If you need a lawyer to handle your messy divorce situation, connect with … then the link to the firm’s website’s contact page.
  • Looking for the right lawyer?
  • Have you been in an accident and need a lawyer?
  • Need a bankruptcy lawyer who has over 20 years of experience….?
  • Have you been arrested for drunk driving? We’re here to help!

You get the idea. Is there anything wrong with this? No…but is it really using the concept of social networking properly or just using social network platforms for advertising or marketing? Me thinks the latter.

Why would anyone want to “connect” with a lawyer?

When I was mulling over this topic with my wife, she astutely likened lawyers to undertakers on social networks. Do you really want to have a “conversation” with an undertaker? Sure – if you need one I guess. Maybe that’s where the internet has replaced Yellow Pages or Yellow Book. But would you really go to Facebook or Twitter to find such a “service provider” or would you probably use a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo or whatever.

As lawyers, especially in our firm’s fields of medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury, what do we offer our “communities” by way of product, entertainment, conversation – or just plain fun? Not a whole lot! Let’s face it, we deal with injury, death – catastrophe – plain and simple. We don’t sell a product like a car, cool T-shirts, a new song or any other “fun commodity.” We are a service industry that is laced with ethical restrictions on what we can say and do on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We really aren’t a fun group in general or at least our professional lives don’t evoke warm and fuzzy feelings with the public.

Lessons learned and a long time for the awakening:

At my age (just check out the profile picture and take a guess – no, I’m not in my 40′s or 50′s), I was not into this whole social networking gig about a year ago. I was one of those who heard that if you were going to compete in the marketplace, you better have a Twitter account and a Facebook page. So in I ventured, not having a clue what I was doing. I used a logo, did my blog, posted it through Twitter and Facebook, and it pretty much ended there. I couldn’t figure out why all this great content was not spurring constant, passionate conversations with my Fans and Followers. I watched what was happening on others pages and tweets. Why weren’t my peeps engaging me on Twitter nor my fans filling my Facebook page with zesty comments?

It took a long, long time – but the light finally went on. People have enough bad news in their everyday lives. They want to have fun, engage, meet and communicate with other people, who may have something to bring to the table. They don’t need lawyers in their everyday lives – or at least hopefully they don’t.

When and how did this epiphany occur? I was sitting at my computer on father’s day and just had the urge to write a blog in honor of my father, who died over 18 years ago. It had zero to do with the law, but it had everything to do with just wanting people to know something about him and my relationship with him. I wrestled with the concept of putting this on the firm’s blog. Was this a place to post such a piece? Well – since I didn’t have any other forum, it just hit the “publish” button on my WordPress screen. Away it went – and the comments came pouring in. Wow – there really were people out there reading what I wrote!

Don’t get me wrong, our blog is not devoted to personal pieces. What this experience taught me, however, is that if I was ever going to have any communication with my fans and tweeps, I should try being a person who’s a lawyer, not a lawyer trying to engage or market my friends and followers.

So what have I learned and where do I go from here?

There’s no doubt that if I just want to meet new people (network) and engage in conversations with many people I would never in this lifetime have met were it not for communities such as Facebook and Twitter, I could use my personal profile page and a Twitter name other than NashLawFirm. Do I have personal connections and engagements on my personal Facebook page? I sure do. A lot of what takes place there is not meant for my Fan Page (interesting choice of words, Mark Zuckerberg).

So the question remains – why should our firm be on Facebook or Twitter? As they say, “the jury’s still out” for the full answer to that one. Does anyone really understand how this phenomenon called social media developed, exploded or where it’s going? I don’t think so. Businesses simply know they better be there, or they’ll be left in the dust in this competitive world. So – here we are – Facebook-posting and tweeting with the best of them.

But what’s different now? What has time and experience taught me? Answer: I’m still learning and figuring it out. That being said, since we are lawyers with a niche practice, since being on social media platforms really is a method for marketing who we are and what we do, since it is a method to publish content to the world, since it is a way to share some knowledge and information with our followers and friends, and since consistently adding new content to our website is apparently good for search engine optimization, here we are!

All that being said, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (yes, I hyperlinked them in case you want to become part of our family- a word I purposely chose), I have really learned that there’s a world of fascinating, friendly, engaging people out there whom I never would have met were it not for such social media platforms. So many people have knowledge, information and advice that they are willing to freely share, it’s simply amazing. So many people just like to connect, banter and chat- it’s been eye-opening and – quite frankly – fun!

Do we have fun with our Facebook and Twitter communities of fans and friends? We do now, and I love it. Do we share information about the law, medicine, product safety, important trends in law and medicine, and the like? We sure do – that’s what we offer our communities on Facebook and Twitter. Do I engage in some personal fun and banter with my more “vocal“ friends and fans? You bet I do – and those, quite frankly, are some of the more fun-filled times I spend on Facebook and Twitter.

So – here’s to my new friends and tweeps – thanks! You’ve made my life richer. I will try to figure out how to best give back to you what you give to me and the other folks in our firm. Sorry it took so long to figure it out…but I believe we’re on the right path now. Let’s continue to have fun, learn some things from each other and just have an interesting place to meet. Yes, meet! That’s what social networking really provides – an interesting and fun place to meet new friends, share some thoughts and sometimes laughs and get to know each other a little better.

A Social Networking Lesson for Parents: Think twice before you hit 'send'!

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

It’s amazing how people continue to find new ways to get into trouble with social networking.

Photo by Davin Lesnick

Just a few years ago, a parent might get into trouble with his or her teenager by reading the teenager’s diary. Such domestic misdeeds seem almost quaint by comparison to what some parents are now doing on the Internet.

As reported by the ABA Journal and others, a mother in Arkansas has been convicted of harassing her own teenage son via the popular social networking site Facebook. While the mother and her teenage son had an admittedly difficult relationship before this (the teenager had lived with his grandmother for years), the teen never suspected that his mother would go to such lengths in her ongoing battle with him.

Denise New logged onto her son’s personal Facebook account after the teenager apparently left his account open on his computer. Perhaps many parents can appreciate the temptation of peering into their children’s online activities given such an opportunity. This mother, however, was not motivated by concern over her son’s well-being or even simple curiosity. Instead, Ms. New intended to post phony messages on his site purporting to come from him. For example, after the two got into a physical altercation and the police got involved, the mother posted a message on her son’s Facebook account (again pretending she was her son) essentially bragging that he had intentionally started the fight and called the police on his mother. Cell phone messages played in court corroborated that the mother was posting such phony messages. In other messages left on his site, the mother expressed regret at ever having a child and repeatedly used foul language. Putting all of this together, the court found that this conduct constituted harassment of the teenager. The mother was sentenced to 30 days in jail (suspended) along with probation and parenting classes.

As a reminder to all of us in this new world of social networking, the trial judge offered some sage advice:

“We live in a world now where what used to be said between two people or in a parking lot, now you hit a button and hundreds, maybe millions, of people can hear what you do,” he said. “It makes it maybe even more important for a person to think before they act because the amplification can be tremendous.” (Source: Arkansas Online)

Like it or not, we all now have the ability to broadcast information — even highly personal information — to the world.  Apparently, some of us are still struggling with deciding what information should be broadcast and what should be kept to ourselves.

Social Media and the Attorney-Client Privilege: Waiving Your Privilege – Be Forewarned and Use Common Sense!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Last week I attended a brown-bag lunch meeting conducted by the Baltimore City Bar Association entitled “Ethical Considerations for Social Networking for Lawyers.” (Yes, you cynics – we do have ethics – most of us do at least.)

As the crowd gathered in the bar library, I was somewhat fascinated by the demographics of the group attending. Many of the attendees were from my generation and beyond. No, I’m not going to make it easy, you can click on the ‘About Brian Nash‘ link on our blog page and figure out my age. Let’s put it this way – I’m not just out of law school.

Initially I was impressed that the older folks even knew what ‘social media’ meant. Well, it turns out many of them have a different definition than we Tweeps, Friends and Followers. Guess they thought it had to do with advertising in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog. (Boy, I hope they’re not reading this! – chances are they are not since it would require a computer.)

Let’s get down to the subject at hand. One of the topics that surfaced during the discussion was the issue of whether or not a client could be found to have waived the attorney-client privilege by communicating with their friends, followers and/or connections on social media networks. Further time was devoted to how ‘those-in-the-know’ have been dealing with this potential nightmarish issue. I want to share some of the group’s thoughts and some of my own on further reflection. My hope is that these ‘tips, tricks and warnings’ will prove to be of some help – not only the public as clients but to my fellow lawyers, who may not have considered these issues before.

The Attorney-Client Privilege:

Let me start by giving the requisite disclaimer: No, you are not my client because we are Friends on Facebook or following each other on Twitter or you are reading this blog. No, this is not legal advice. That’s the short version.

What is this privilege? I could quote Black’s Law Dictionary, but in the spirit of the internet, here’s what version 1.0 and 2.0 of the cyberspace’s bible (read: Wikipedia) has to say:

The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications. The United States Supreme Court has stated that, by assuring confidentiality, the privilege encourages clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation.

So how could a tweet, a posting or a comment potentially waive such a sacred and revered protection?

While what constitutes a waiver can at times vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and certainly from one fact pattern to another, there are some common principles of law that seem to apply.

  • the disclosure must be voluntary and inconsistent with the confidential nature of the attorney-client relationship.
  • the disclosure of the communication with one’s attorney by a client has been made to “unnecessary third parties.”

While law libraries are filled with cases interpreting and ruling on issues of waiver of the privilege, these two elements (intentional disclosure to an unnecessary third party) are sufficient to frame the issue for our discussion.

Does voluntary mean ‘intentional’ – or put another way: “Geez, I didn’t mean to do that.” The short answer (albeit being overly simplistic) is “no, not necessarily.” One of the central issues is – was the disclosure voluntary. Some courts and legal writers suggest that if the disclosure is “inadvertent” (therefore, not voluntary) that this is not a waiver of the privilege. Well, as with most things in the law, there is a laundry list of factors that can be considered to determine if a defense of inadvertent will withstand a challenge to waiver. Some of these might be as follows:

  • the reasonableness (a favorite legal word that can mean anything to anyone) of the precautions taken to prevent inadvertent disclosure
  • the number of inadvertent disclosures
  • the extent of disclosure
  • the delay and measures taken to rectify the disclosure

Well what if you didn’t intend it – or so you say? First of all, I’m not quite sure I want to be standing in front of a judge arguing that when you broadcast a communication you had with your lawyer on Facebook, Twitter or whatever other networking site you live on, you really didn’t intend to type what you typed and then hit ‘enter.’

Can there also be an implied waiver? – another meaningful legal term that keeps all of us lawyers in business. Without getting into a dissertation (more the subject of a law review article) on what constitutes an implied waiver, suffice it to say that this can occur when the client places the communication with their lawyer which goes to the heart of the controversy.

Intent (just like reasonable) generally speaking is one of those fuzzy terms that breeds litigation. For purposes of this article, let’s just focus on whether you intended to put this disclosure out there for your friends and followers. Was the topic you were communicating to your friends/followers (i.e. more than likely defined as “unnecessary third parties”) a confidential communication you had with your lawyer or maybe with your lawyer’s staff?

If it meets these two tests, you will have a difficult if not impossible hurdle to overcome in defending a claim by the opposing lawyer that you waived the attorney-client privilege.

You have now been warned – don’t do it! I know the devil made  your fingers fly over the keyboard when you told your 482 friends about what your lawyer just told you –  about how your case is progressing, or key information your lawyer just discovered, or even your lawyer’s brilliant strategy for getting you a top dollar settlement in your case. The “devil defense” is probably not going to work.

The same goes for lawyers. First of all, the privilege is not the lawyer’s; it belongs in modern jurisprudence to the client. I fully realize that you are just dying to share with your network of legal eagles your most recent brilliant strategy that even Clarence Darrow would never have thought of; however, if you reveal the strategy of a client’s case on such a public forum and it is discovered, you can probably expect a letter from your local attorney grievance commission.

While there are a host of related issues that I will be writing about in the future (e.g. tips and tricks for lawyers during the intake process to identify social media platforms your clients are frequenting, notifications in your fee agreements, and the like), I leave you with one final piece of advice (free at that!!): DON’T DO IT! Keep your communications with your lawyer (clients) off the public social media platforms.

I’m sure you are confident that your user name is so ingenious – LegalBoy528AZ  or imgonnaberichsoon – that you will never get caught. You type away figuring that you’re smarter than any dumb opposing lawyer. Trust me – you don’t want to make that assumption. In fact, in a future blog, I’ll discuss court rulings on this topic of discovery of social media data that may surprise you  - and not in a good way.

To borrow a catchphrase from the TV show Hill Street Blues – “Let’s be safe out there!” I might also add – “Let’s be smart our there!”