In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent…

In a world where technology is becoming more prevalent, here are some pointers on how to use technology appropriately:

Techiquette For Lawyers


From: The

“Always say please and thank you.”Look people in the eye when you are speaking and listening to them.” “Don’t interrupt when another is speaking.”

For most of us, these basic rules of etiquette have been ingrained in our brains from very early in our lives. And while the legal profession is rife with professionals that don’t exercise these basic rules on a daily basis, I would venture to guess that, for the most part, lawyers know the difference between good and bad manners.

As technology and the Internet continue to invade the real-world, the courtesies and etiquette generally accepted as polite by users of technology are not quite so clear. And this should come as no surprise.
While many basic rules of business etiquette are common sense, and easily translate in the realm of “techiquette,” there are many new forms of communication to which these basic rules either don’t hold, or in the very least, need modification:

In Missing Manners for the Digital AgeDennis Kennedy and Tom Mighell discuss the evolving notion of “digital etiquette,” where people are most likely to make missteps in digital manners, and their take on guiding principles for good and polite behavior in our digital world. I encourage you to check out the podcast and see whether or not you are familiar with, agree, or disagree some of their basic rules of techiquette.

Robert Half shares some common sticky etiquette questions and tips to help tackle them:

  • Should I personalize my LinkedIn requests to connect with others?
  • How do I keep my manager from getting wind of my job search using LinkedIn?
  • Should I friend my boss or coworkers?
  • Can Facebook postings hurt my job search?
  • Should I use Facebook at work?
  • What’s the right way to decline a request to connect with someone?
  • If someone follows me on Twitter, should I automatically follow him or her back?
  • Uh oh. I sent a confidential e-mail to the wrong person. What do I do now?
  • How responsive should I be to e-mail when I’m on vacation?
  • I forgot to attach a file before sending an e-mail…again. How can I avoid this in the future?
  • How can I prevent my colleagues from scheduling conference calls over lunch?

In my experience, there is a very strong correlation between those that exhibit poor basic etiquette and poor techiquette. Coincidence? I think not. However, there are also plenty of very polite people with whom I deal that appear to make basic techiquette mistakes without knowing the rule.

As with all forms of communication technology, the rules of what is generally accepted as polite take time to develop. For example, the rules for appropriate cell phone usage, which have really only become ubiquitous in the last ten to fifteen years, are still the subject of much debate. While I venture to guess that most of us would agree that using your cell phone during dinner is just plain rude, I suspect there would be much disagreement about usage on public buses, trains, and planes.

The rapid adoption of social media has turned hundreds of millions of people into online publishers in a matter of very few years. And with this mass adoption has come, in my humble opinion, an exponential amplification of rude and unprofessional communication and conduct.

Is this due to a lack of understanding of what’s appropriate? Or is it merely a showcase for unprofessional conduct that has existed for decades? What are some of your biggest techiqutte pet peeves?


Sexting – My How Times Have Changed

It’s obnoxious that teens text non-stop but now that many have chosen to send naked pictures of themselves or others, they are unwittingly committing a crime.  This growing phenomenon is the subject of a new article on the SSRN blog entitled: ‘Sexting,’ the First Amendment and Prosecuting Teens. From the abstract:

‘Sexting’ and other teen autopornography are becoming a widespread phenomenon, with perhaps 20% of teenagers admitting to producing nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves and an ever greater proportion, perhaps as many as 50%, having illegally received such pictures from friends and classmates. It is, moreover, beginning to result in criminal prosecutions, and the statutory penalties are severe. Given the reality of changing social practices, mores and technology utilization, today’s pornography laws are a trap for unwary teens and operate, in effect, to criminalize a large fraction of America’s young people. As such, these laws and prosecutions represent a stark example of the contradictions that can occur when governmental policies and initiatives built on past truths and values collide with new and unanticipated social phenomena.The focus of anti-pornography enforcement in recent years has been the child pornography laws. The landmark cases of New York v. Ferber and Osborne v. Ohio have established and defined a categorical exclusion that denies First Amendment protection to sexually explicit visual depictions of minors. Even though Ferber and Osborne may not strictly speaking require a conclusion that sexting and other autopornography are unprotected speech, at least some lower courts and prosecutors appear to regard them that way.

By contrast, the language and reasoning of the more recent case of Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition gives strong reason to believe that the scope of the categorical exclusion for child pornography should be closely aligned with the governmental objectives that Ferber and Osborne relied on – which would mean constitutional protection for teen sexting and autopornography that occur on the teens’ own initiative. Ashcroft strongly implies, though does not quite say, that the categorical exclusion should be limited to materials that are produced by means of criminal child abuse and exploitation. Also, current standards of strict scrutiny for content-based regulations, if applied, would probably prevent (on the present state of the studies and research) self-produced teen materials from being subsumed into the Ferber categorical exclusion. How this issue will be decided, however, remains to be seen.