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Information for Lawyers, Ideas for Journalists: Week of June 25

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Legal news on the webOur weekly roundup of legal news links, legal PR client news and story ideas

By Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.

There are several ways to promote your practice. On Monday I discussed why you should include your referral base in your firm’s PR outreach efforts. On Wednesday I noted that legal press releases are a good way to reach out to clients, add fresh content to your website and get inbound links.

Seminars, honors and awards are another way to increase your visibility, strengthen your firm’s brand and generate publicity for your firm.

In this week’s roundup I want to take a moment to congratulate three law firm clients for their recent achievements and outreach efforts.

LMM Client News

The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis recently bestowed on John Campbell of The Simon Law Firm the John C. Shepherd Professionalism Award, which is given each year to a young lawyer who exemplifies the tenets of the profession.

David Zevan of Zevan & Davidson received the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys’ Thomas G. Strong Trial Attorney Award, which is given annually to an attorney whose advocacy skills in difficult cases demonstrate great skill and passion for the injured, who has handled complex cases with some frequency and who has a reputation for professionalism, ethics and integrity.

Marta J. Papa is offering her 40-hour divorce mediation training course. It began June 23 and will wrap up on June 27.  The training includes demonstrations, lectures, role-play and coaching.

Notable Links for Lawyers

Legal PR ExpertsThe Right PR Strategy for a Company Crisis

Against the backdrop of the Toyota and BP meltdowns, three PR veterans interviewed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Henry Unger weigh in on the best practices for companies facing crises. In addition to the need for crisis-simulation exercises and clear designation of who is authorized to deliver a unified message, the experts emphasize the need to bring PR experts to the table alongside operations, legal and financial advisors.

Liability for news online commentsAt Buffalo News, New Rules for Online Comments

This week, The Buffalo News announced that it would require everyone who posts a comment on its website to first provide his or her name, place of residence and phone number. Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times reports that similar information is required of people who submit letters to the editor to the Times. The commenter’s name and hometown appear along with the comment.

LinkedIn and Facebook auto followTwitter Lets You Automatically Follow Facebook Friends

Twitter has announced two major upgrades to its Facebook and LinkedIn applications, Mashable’s Ben Parr reports. The apps allow you to see which of your friends or connections are on Twitter. However, the Facebook Twitter app wasn’t working properly on June 24; according to the last available information, Facebook was working to resolve the problem.

Audience for legal blogsHow to Get Started Blogging

Grammar Girl has a great post filled with useful blogging tips. She walks the reader through the important process of defining the audience and discusses how to build confidence as a blogger.

The Law and Social MediaSocial Media Risks

Over at Slaw, business lawyer David Canton lists the factors that lead to bad social media policy decisions and writes that some forget that the old rules still apply to new media. A comment that shouldn’t be made in person or in an e-mail is also likely to be inappropriate as a blog post. He also notes the powerful role of perception: People tend to underestimate the risks associated with familiar technologies and processes and overestimate the risks associated with the unfamiliar — such as social media.

Story Ideas for Business, Consumer and Law

Reporters, Writers and Bloggers

Legal Liability for Online Comments

The announcement by The Buffalo News that it would no longer accept anonymous comments is the latest chapter in the vigorous debate over liability concerns stemming from unfettered speech.

Those worried about curbs on speech oppose any comment restrictions. Media outlets report that some attorneys are also advocating against controls because poor controls might expose a paper to greater defamation and slander liability than no controls at all. (This is similar to the legal reasoning applied to the dilemma of removing snow from a business parking lot. It is better to let the snow accumulate than to do a substandard job of trying to remove it, or so the reasoning goes.)

On the other side are journalists who believe that the old standards that required the newspapers to verify information submitted with a letter to the editor should apply. There are also many who are weary of reading racist, inappropriate, flamethrowing or rage-filled missives.

The tensions between these points of views and how media outlets are handling them could be a good subject for exploration.

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