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Posts published in “Social Media”

9 PMAP Website Resources to Help You Manage your Law Firm

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In recognition of National Small Business Week, check out a few of our favorite practice management and technology website resources to help you manage your small firm (or large firm):

  1. Start a Practice - Are you planning to start a practice? Navigate these resources to find tools to help you develop a business plan, create a budget, decide on an entity and firm name, find the right location, get the proper licenses/insurance, market, prepare for emergencies, choose technology, plus much more!
  2. Close a Practice - You're thinking about winding down your practice...but you have no clue where to begin. Check out the PMA's guide to close your office plus how to transition out of practice based on a variety of situations. We even have resources for succession planning!
  3. Firm or Law Partner Changes - Things happen: Lawyers decide to leave in order to form new partnerships, go solo, or dissolve practices. Our lawyers in transition section will help you navigate through a variety of situations. If you cannot locate a particular situation, contact pmap@scbar.org for assistance.
  4. Build Your Practice - Whether you want to explore client development or learn how to build your business, our business development resources provide a variety of tips from a variety of marketing resources.
  5. Prepare for the Worst - With Atlantic Hurricane Season kicking off officially June 1st and manmade or natural disasters happening every day, it is important for law firms to create a disaster and emergency preparedness plan. Check out our Prepare page for tips and also request a free copy of our disaster handbook, if you do not one.
  6. Time and Business Management - How should you manage your time and stay organized in your business? Check out a few great tips here. (P.S. Don't forget to check out our SC Small Firm blog for more organization/time management tips and the PMAP Forms Bank for correspondence, checklists, plus more.)
  7. Technology Tips - Whether you are interested in learning more about technology or looking for a specific tech topic (software, security, consultants, etc.), our tech tips section will help you navigate through some of the most important decisions in managing your practice.
  8. Legal Research (for South Carolina Bar members) - Looking to conduct research for a particular case or cases? Check out the South Carolina Bar's free legal research member benefit Fastcase by logging into the Bar's website. Our FAQ's page will help show you how.
  9. Resources- Can't find a specific resource you're looking for? Don't forget the South Carolina Bar has over 160 resources available to active Bar members in good standing via the Lending Library. Also, check out the PMAP Videos Bank and the FAQ Bank for helpful tips and information.

Contact the Practice Management Assistance Program for further assistance in managing your law practice.

How Lawyers Can Use Social Media In Investigations and Process Service

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Special Thanks to the ABA, ABA TECHSHOW 2017, and Amanda Sexton of On The Lookout Investigations for  providing this article for the ABA TECHSHOW 2017 blog. Click here to learn more about ABA TECHSHOW 2017 below and don't forget to register and save with the South Carolina Bar code EP1710.

Part 1 of 3: Social Media Surveillance

By Amanda Sexton, On The Lookout Investigations

Social media has opened new doors for lawyers when it comes to investigations and process service.

This first post is part of a three-part series designed to walk you through three of the most important uses of social media within investigations and process service including:

  • Social media surveillance vs. traditional surveillance
  • Service of process via Facebook
  • Social media jury screening

Among the many pros of social media, an unexpected one has come up: a low-cost alternative to surveillance for attorneys and their clients.

Surveillance can be expensive, with minimum time frames and sometimes requiring multiple investigators to properly tail a subject. But there’s a cheaper option – powerful programs that dig through social media accounts for useful information.

You can spend anywhere from $1500 for a standard 8-hour day for surveillance with one investigator and with no guarantees the subject will even leave the house, whereas a social media search can be done for as little as $250.

These searches can pull entire profiles while other searches (still MUCH cheaper than surveillance) can create a social media timeline covering hundreds of sites.

Used by private investigators and law enforcement only, these programs can perform some serious magic when it comes to downloading profiles, authenticating and preserving potential evidence and using algorithms to search for specific keywords across profiles with thousands of pages that may be relevant to a case.

Another bonus to social media searches over surveillance – ease of anonymity. What happens if you’re made while following a subject? Forget about it – now they’re onto you. With social media searches there’s the power of remaining anonymous as you browse the internet and deep web searching for pieces of information to pull together to help support or tear apart a case.

While looking through social media profiles, it can be absolutely mind-boggling how much information people share not only about themselves but their friends and family. Social media searches gather all that information and data to create a cheaper alternative to surveillance.

Part 2 of 3: Service of Process Via Facebook: Alternate Service Method

While cases involving service of process via Facebook are still the exception, courts in the United States certainly do seem to be warming up to the idea based on opinions and use of precedent.

Since the issuing of the first court order in the United States approving Facebook as a means of alternate service in Mpafe v. Mpafe in 2011several cases have followed suite. In all of them the same issues have come up:

  • How do we know this is the correct individual?
  • Has there been contact with the individual through this Facebook account? Is the e-mail address connected to this account validated as belonging to the subject? Do the friends and family reflect that of the subject?
  • How certain are we they will see the notice?
  • How often is the subject on Facebook? Are there frequent posts or frequent message communications?
  • Why does this make sense as opposed to another method of alternate service?
  • Is there no known address for the subject? Has due diligence been completed and have attempts at personal service been exhausted?

What does this mean for the future of service of process?

It’s important to note that in each case service via Facebook has taken place by court order, after initial service or because personal service couldn’t be attempted. Given due process rights, personal service has remained the preferred method of service.

Given how unlikely it is individuals will ever see a publication, the high cost involved and the purpose of alternate service in due process rights, more courts are seeing Facebook as a viable means of alternate service of the subject.

In Baidoo v. Blood-Dzrakuthe court opinion noted:

“In divorce cases brought in New York County, plaintiffs are often granted permission to publish the summons in such newspapers as the New York Law Journal or the Irish Echo. If that were to be done here, the chances of defendant, who is neither a lawyer nor Irish, ever seeing the summons in print, either in those particular newspapers or in any other, are slim to none.”

When it comes to serving internationally judges are also approving the use of Facebook service, particularly in countries who are signatories to the Hague Convention of the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents. FTC v. PCCare 247, Inc. was the first international case where it was determined that because the country hadn’t objected to Article 10(a) and service by postal channels or to service via electronic means, then service via Facebook was allowable.  Since then judges have relied on this precedent in other cases.

There are many nuances involved in each of the cases where alternate service via Facebook was granted, but the underlying theme is the same – courts are becoming more open to technology and the idea of Facebook as a method of alternate service where the subject may actually see the notice over traditional publication.

Part 3 of 3: Jury Screening Using Open Source Intelligence

Would you choose a juror whose Facebook was full of racist posts?

How about a juror with an Instagram account filled with substance abuse?

Or a juror who tweets about harsh prison sentences, religion, or political affiliations?

In today’s share-everything social media world, lawyers and private investigators have more budget-friendly options available when it comes to jury screening.

With the release of ABA Formal Opinion 466 in 2014, lawyers are free to research potential jurors online with no repercussions (as long as they don’t send an access request).  This means lawyers can also ethically and legally use an investigator who utilizes Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) to go beyond Google to gain insight into a potential juror.

With more than 60% of potential jurors having social media profiles, this means there’s a wealth of information waiting out there on more than half of any potential jury.

Previously private investigators had to go through more typical “gum-shoe” investigations to gather information on a potential juror. This involved calling old employers, friends and family members, looking through old records and county court searches.

As technology has moved forward, many private investigators have moved out of the field and behind a computer, utilizing databases, algorithms and OSINT techniques to get the information they need. For lawyers, this means jury screening has become much more affordable to conduct.

While potential juror questionnaires can give some insight, information found on social media can help uncover biases and give you a rough sketch of the individual’s political leanings, opinions and personality.

Every trial attorney knows how important jury selection is to the outcome of a case. The use of OSINT techniques by private investigators and the ability to create a cost-effective, detailed work-up of a potential juror is just one of the many positive impacts technology has had on the legal community.


Amanda Sexton, Director of Corporate Development: On The Lookout Investigations

Amanda Sexton is the Director of Corporate Development at On The Lookout Investigations and DGR –The Source for Legal Support, winners for the past three years of the New Jersey Law Journal’s annual ‘Best Of’ survey. She is currently President of the New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association, a board member of the Legal Vendors Network and attends local and national conferences and training sessions to stay on top of the latest techniques and regulations for both process service and private investigations, including online investigations and social media surveillance.

Amanda blogs at www.dgrlegal.com/blog and www.otlollc.com/private-investigations-blog and can be reached at amanda@otlollc.com.

The Facebook Shell Game

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I have a personal Facebook account – like millions of us. I mainly have it tF gradeo keep track of a few family members and old friends who insist on inhabiting Facebook as a surrogate kitchen table for family news. When Facebook was new, I started off strong, accepting invitations from old college chums, colleagues, acquaintances, and family. Soon, I had a little over 200 “friends.” Then Facebook started changing things. What was joyful and sharing became troublesome and suspicious. I “tightened” my privacy settings, removed personal information, and eventually “unfriended” 150 people. I engaged in a virtual game of lifeboat: choosing who was worthy of staying on board, and who would have to swim. But Facebook continued to make subtle and often confusing changes to its policies. I realized that the friend of my friend is sometimes my enemy – or at least not my Facebook friend. When I commented on someone else’s post, or I “liked” a post or website, my information was open to many outside of Facebook.

I know what you’re thinking: “No one ever promised that Facebook – which is FREE – was going to be your own private virtual chat room.” Yes, I get that, but on some level, I think many of us feel tricked. Probably because when we began with Facebook, we had more options to be “private.”

And now there’s more:

“In a few days we'll be removing an old Facebook setting you've used in the past. You'll see an announcement on Facebook and have several chances to learn about this before then. We just wanted to tell you about this in advance so you have time to review what's changing and understand your privacy options.

What's changing: We're removing an old search setting called "Who can look up your Timeline by name"—but this won't change who can see what you've shared on Facebook.

What did this setting do?

"Who can look up your Timeline by name" controlled who could find your Timeline by typing your name in search.”

Thus began the latest email to Facebook users about changes to a “privacy” setting. In short: like it or not, all users will be searchable now on Facebook. The email goes on to explain how to limit what people can see when they search for you and find you by name. But it was at that point in the email that I stopped paying attention to what I was reading and started thinking about how many times before I’ve gone through this “privacy” charade with Facebook. I’m tired of playing the Facebook shell game. If the word “privacy” is to have any meaning at all, the best thing for me (and all of us who care about that word) to do is quit Facebook.