Ethics of Social Media, Wikileaks and Courtroom Tech Among Topics to be Explored at Annual Law Meeting

WASHINGTON, July 19, 2011 – From social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to mobile devices like BlackBerry devices, iPads and Playbook tablets, new technologies are transforming the way lawyers and judges communicate and do business. The impact of technology on the legal profession will be explored at the 2011 _ Annual Meeting, Aug. 4 – 9, in Toronto, Canada.

With more than 1,400 legal programs, events and presentations by the foremost law experts, the ABA Annual Meeting is the nation’s premier gathering of legal professionals.

The ethical use of new technologies is chief among technology-related programming. Should judges “friend” litigants or “follow” corporations that they may have to preside over? What are the best practices around guiding social media usage among jurors? How are lawyers using social media to investigate clients and litigants? How can lawyers protect confidential information over mobile Wi-Fi devices?

To arrange for interviews with panelists, contact ABA Communications and Media Relations at 202- or .

During the Annual Meeting, accredited journalists should register on-site at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building, Level 800, Hall E, beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 4. A separate press room behind the main registration area will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and will close one hour after the adjournment of the House of Delegates on Aug. 9.

Online registration for news reporters is easier than ever. Credential guidelines are at https://abanow.org/reporter-resources/media-credentials/.  Registration for credentialed media is free.

Technology-related program highlights include:

Ways to Practice Law: iPads, Playbooks, and Tablet
Lawyers are adding a new gadget to their technology toolkit – tablets, iPads and Playbooks, among them.  In this session, panelists will discuss the differences between these devices and share which apps and accessories can help lawyers best serve their clients.

Tom Mighell, Dallas
Nerino Petro, Madison, Wis.

Aug. 4, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Room 803A, 800 Level, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, South Building

“Lawyering in the Digital Age: Using Technology and Social Media to Assist Underserved Populations”
With the advent of email and social networking lawyers are now able to assist individuals who are seeking to represent themselves hundreds of miles away.  This panel will explore a plethora of ways tools like Twitter, Facebook and Skype has expanded communication and the way attorneys conduct business. They will share how social media can be used to improve and enhance accessibility to health information, in emergencies and other situations. They will also discuss important legal issues of professional responsibility, unauthorized practice of law, client confidentiality, and privacy of documents in using technology and social media to assist underserved populations.

Nanette Elster, Chicago
Sara Sommarstrom, Minneapolis

Aug. 4, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Room 803B, 800 Level, MTCC, South Building

“BlackBerrys and the Practice of the Law”
The BlackBerry has become a great way for lawyers to stay connected, to be responsive to clients, build relationships and increase productivity.  However, in order to protect themselves and their clients, there are ethical minefields when using these devices that attorneys should understand before using these devices. A panel will discuss ethics and more.

Dan Pinnington, Toronto, Canada

Aug. 4, 2 – 3:30 p.m., Toronto Ballroom II, Convention Floor, Hilton Toronto

“The Perils of Social Media Under the Laws of U.S. & Canada: A Cautious Tale for Lawyers and Clients”
Lawyers, litigants, judges and jurors are part of the social-media craze. A panel will focus on the professional use of social media, including evidence gathering and social media issues that cross borders. They will also discuss privacy issues, copyright laws and ethical implications for lawyers using social media.


Nicole Black, Rochester, N.Y.
Christine Martin, New York,
Dr. Teresa Scassa, Ottawa, Canada
Dominique Shelton, Beverly Hills, Calif.
Moderator: Neil A. Smith, San Francisco

Aug. 4, 3:45 – 5:15 p.m. Toronto Ballroom II, Convention Floor, Hilton Toronto

“Psychology and the Computer: Their Effective Use in Mediation of Complex Cases”
This program will explore the psychological issues to be considered in mediating complex claims, as well as the techniques available through the use of computerized risk-probability analysis to refocus attention on what should be a party’s primary concern: namely “what are my chances of winning or losing?” and “how do I quantify it?”

Aug. 5, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Room 713B, 700 Level, MTCC, South Building

“Court Technology Showcase: New Applications for You and Your Court”
Innovative judges and court personnel use a variety of digital tools to enhance the courtroom experience. In this session, they will discuss the technological tools that have been tried and proven to work in the courtroom. These tools will range from video and “wav” files to mobile devices to social media and knowledge management. Panelists will demonstrate these tools and share their own experiences and adaptations.

Judge Robert S. Cohen, Tallahassee, Fla.
Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr., Charlotte, N.C.
Judge Herbert B. Dixon Jr., Washington, D.C.
Nisha A. Falcigno, New York
T.J. Haycox, Charlotte, N.C.
Judge William G. Kelly, Kentwood, Mich.
Judge Gary Randall, Omaha, Neb.
Judge Ben F. Tennille, Winston-Salem, N.C.

Aug. 5, 1:30 – 3 p.m., Toronto Ballroom II, Convention Floor, Hilton Toronto

“CSI Toronto: The Role of the Court in an Age of Developing Science & Technology”
From the crime scene to the courtroom, in both civil and criminal cases, extensive, wide-spread reforms are needed in forensic science, according to a recent Academy of Sciences report. A bi-national panel will examine the use of complex scientific and technical evidence in American and Canadian courts, including the admissibility of evidence and ways to ensure that expert testimonies are both grounded in science and acknowledges the uncertainties in any findings.


Judge Stephanie Domitrovich, Erie, Penn.
Judge Nancy Gertner, Boston
Judge Stephen T. Goudge, Toronto, Canada
Judge Michael Saks, Phoenix
Moderator: Judge David J. Waxse, Kansas City, Kan.

Aug. 5, 3:15 – 5 p.m., Toronto Ballroom II, Convention Floor, Hilton Toronto

“‘Friend’ is Now a Verb: Judicial Ethics & the New Social Media”
Judges and attorneys will examine the ethical issues as well as the benefits involved with following professional contacts on social sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Professional contacts can range from other attorneys in the courtroom, to following companies or social causes. They will also discuss the rules the general public has to follow when using social media while serving as jurors. Panelists will discuss how to troubleshoot hazards posed by the new technology and the public’s embrace of it.  The ABA’s Judicial Division Technology Chair Gary Randall will keynote the program. JD Ethics Committee Co-Chair Judge Annette J. Scieszinski will drive the discussion as moderator.

Marla N. Greenstein, Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct, Anchorage, Ala.
Cynthia Gray, Center on Judicial Ethics for the American Judicature Society, Chicago
Michael Witte, Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission, Lawrenceburg, Ind.
Judge Bernice Donald, U.S. District Court Judge, Memphis
Gary Randall, ABA Judicial Division, Omaha, Neb.
Moderator: Annette J. Scieszinski, ABA JD Ethics Committee, Albia, Iowa

Aug. 6, 1– 3 p.m., MacDonald/Lismer Convention Floor, Hilton Toronto

“WikiLeaks, National Security and Free Speech”
Moderator Devon Chaffee of Human Rights First will lead a provocative discussion from U.S. and Canadian perspectives on the issues raised by the activities of WikiLeaks.  National security, free speech and press rights, and foreign policy issues are on the table for discussion.

David T.S. Fraser, Hailfax, Canada
Charles D. Tobin, Washington, D.C.
Steve Vladeck, Washington, D.C.
Lee Williams, Atlanta
Moderator: Devon Chaffee, Washington, D.C.

Aug. 6, 8:30 – 10 a.m., Room 718A, 700 Level, MTCC, South Building

“Investigating and Forgetting on the Web”
This program discussion will focus on the legal ramifications of social media. Canadian and American attorneys will examine the privacy, liability and other potential challenges caused by the constantly-expanding use of social media. Potential solutions will be examined, including whether the use of “cleaners,” social media expiration dates and other mechanisms to purge online histories could be used to benefit employees or to hamper employers and, if so, what the legal implications would be of using these new technologies.

Aug. 7, 10:30 a.m. – noon, Room 701B, 700 Level, MTCC, South building,

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

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Note to Editors: Accredited reporters are welcome to cover the ABA Annual Meeting for free.  For credential guidelines go to http://www.abanet.org/media/credentials.html.  To register for the Annual Meeting go to www.abanews.org.

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