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Social Media and Arbitrators/Mediators - What are your thoughts?

Should arbitrators/mediators be active on social media?

If yes, consider also:

- Which social media platforms?

- Will social media involvement create potential conflicts?

- What should be disclosed when handling a case (i.e., friends, contacts, postings, etc.)? Suggest also any standard language for broad social media disclosure.

Please provide your thoughts/comments below.

Comments (12)

Anonymous:

The following is social media disclosure langaugae I received from the AAA/ICDR:

“I use a number of online professional networks such as LinkedIn and group email systems.  I generally accept requests from other professionals to be added to my LinkedIn website but do not maintain a database of all these professional contacts and connections.  LinkedIn now features endorsements, which I do not seek and have no control over who may endorse me for different skills.  The existence of such links or endorsements does not indicate any depth or relationship other than an online professional connection, similar to connections in professional organizations.”

The AAA/ICDR sample disclosure covers the basic issues. When serving as an arbitrator I receive names of counsel, parties, and witnesses to run a conflict check, I search those names on social media for any connections and then disclose them.

andrew gerber:

The question is like asking "should an arbitrator walk into a bar?" Walking into the bar is innocuous -- legally and ethically neutral -- but what you say or do there might matter and should be treated in the same way that you'd treat similar activity done anywhere else. The same analysis applies to things done on social media.

I have used the same standard disclosure. I do not typically use Facebook for business connections. I use it to keep up with family and college and high school friends. I have professional connections on LinkedIn, but per the disclosure, it takes more than a simple connection to create, in my judgment, a conflict of interest.

I avoid patronizing social media such as Facebook, because I find it to be a serious waste of time. LinkedIn can be a help in making connections, but also demands time in keeping your own postings up to date and following the activities of others. Then there is the possibility of creating a problem for yourself in creating unwanted conflicts of interest. Leave it to the kids and millennials.

Anonymous:

As a former federal judge, I never joined Facebook or the like and I consider that to be a wise decision that I will carry forward as an AAA arbitrator. I find Linkedin to be a massive waste of time, with its bombardment of attenuated contacts and job openings (I am not seeking employment as an attorney).

Anonymous

I use the social media disclosure language recommended by AAA.

My private practice as an advertising lawyer requires me to be knowledgable about and active on social media. I am active on Twitter and LInkedIn. Facebook is primarily personal. That being said, my social media usage has little to nothing to do with my arbitration matters. Over time, that may change as more thought leadership about arbitration may switch to specialized LinkedIn groups, etc. In fact, I venture to say as younger members of the bar become arbitrators, it is likely this will happen. Of course, if you are an arbitrator following ADR groups for thought leadership, you should exercise extreme care about what you say in public. As to how I handle my social media presence in arbitrations, I use a version of the AAA social media disclosure language when I accept appointments. In addition, I run names through the search features to see if/how I am connected. If the connection is through a group but I have no personal connection or knowledge of the person, I explain this in my disclosure. Ultimately, it is up to the parties whether to accept my appointment as an arbitrator. I make full, detailed disclosures about any connections of which I am aware on social media. I also encourage the parties to remember their obligations to make disclosures should they be aware of some connection of which I am not, particularly due to the attenuated nature of relationships on social media.

I find LinkedIn to be a very valuable tool in my ADR practice. It has many informative articles and items that I would not otherwise be aware of and provides me with the opportunity to share my own postings and comments with friends and colleagues.I expect that many other ADR professionals used LinkedIn and thus do not feel compelled to go beyond stating that I am a "LinkedIn user" in making disclosures. I have over 700 LinkedIn "followers" of whom I know, personally, less than 10%, so I do not view my LinkedIn network as creating any potential conflicts.

Michael S Wilk:

In this day and time I think being on a social network like Linkedin is important. Times are changing and the internet is a primary source that young professionals use to and convenient way to learn about someone. Young professionals get older and the ones that follow will be more attuned to going to the internet for information. I have not taken the time to learn how to effectively use it, but have plans to do so.
I make the disclosure that I am on Linkedin but do not consider linking to persons to be a mater that should be disclosed, in and of itself and request that if anyone wants me to disclose I will make a supplemental disclosure. So far, no one has ever requested.

Michael McConnell:

I'm glad to see this topic raised on the Roundtable for discussion. I am troubled by LinkedIn "endorsements" when it comes to the subject of arbitrator disclosures. I do not solicit endorsements but will receive them from time to time. If a lawyer in a prospective arbitration has endorsed me for "arbitration" or a specific practice area, I question whether this requires a disclosure. Are other members of the Roundtable leaving LinkedIn because of this issue? Is there a way to track endorsements? I would like to see more development of this sub-topic.

Anonymous:

You do have the ability to block LinkedIn endorsements. I have done that for the reason raised by Michael McConnell.

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