Originally published in Plaintiff Magazine, January 2012.
A friend of ours, in the not too distant past, put out a job offer. He narrowed it down to the final two, after interviews. His first pick? A young woman, we’ll call her Ms. Smith, whose legal experience put her in the lead. He then did what many people these days do. He plugged the names of the final two into a search engine. Within the first few hits? A publicly accessible MySpace page. Now for some, having a desperately unhip MySpace page — this was before Justin Timberlake’s group bought it — would have been enough. But there was more. Pictures of her — that she had posted — in various states of excessive inebriation, large bottles of hard alcohol in hand. The other applicant? References to a few classes in college, a paper and an updated LinkedIn profile.
Everybody’s doing it
Google stalking is not just the bastion of jilted lovers. Jurors do it. Prospective clients do it. The media does it. Opposing counsel and adjusters do it. The worry? What are they going to find? The only way to tell is to do it too.
Most of us are so busy worrying about our clients, our opposing counsel and our experts that we forget there’s another web presence out there. Yours. And if you think jurors aren’t doing searches on you, you’re either not reading the news or failing to follow your firm’s website analytics. I’m illustrating this with jurors but it is true across the board.
There’s the panel in Florida, where ten of twelve jurors conducted independent Internet research despite instructions not to. Our firm’s website analytics regularly demonstrate that our website traffic increases during jury selection. The information is detailed enough to show that the increase is from a particular region and focused on particular lawyers. It is not detailed enough to tell us precisely who it is.
An aside — have your website professional install Analytics and learn how to log on to view it or receive weekly email updates. Review the results. You’ll be surprised what you can learn about who comes to your site and what draws them there...
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