Is There any Room for Social Media for In-House Insurance Defense Attorneys?

by Fred Abramson on October 10, 2009 · 3 comments

Today I had a discussion with a friend who works as an insurance defense attorney for a large insurance company.  While sitting on a comfy sofa at Book Review in Huntington, Long Island, I began perusing a copy of The Whuffle Factor by Tara Hunt.  The book is about the importance of creating and implementing social capital. We then discussed its applicability to her job. Does social media have any place for an in-house insurance defense attorney?

Her opinion was a resounding no.  As an employee at an insurance company, she has no clients.  Why bother with social media if you are not looking to connect with anyone? I then asked whether she thought it was important to find out more about opposing counsel through researching their profiles on social networking sites?  She said that it was not worth the effort.

Lastly, I asked whether it should be common practice for her to view the social profiles of opposing plaintiff’s.  For example, wouldn’t it be helpful to view the Facebook page of an injured plaintiff?  What if the there is a current photograph of him playing soccer if he is claiming injury to a torn meniscus?  Wouldn’t it help your case?  She said that she thought that there would be a problem in getting the page into evidence (I certainly don’t agree with her there.)

Do you think my friend is right?  Is there a place for social media for Insurance Defense Attorneys?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Yotis October 14, 2009 at 10:17 pm

By limiting her view of social media, your friend is limiting herself. LinkedIn, Martindale-Connected, Facebook, and to some extent Twitter offer so much more than a new venue for client development. Social media sites are places where an insurance defense attorney can clue in to the trends and issues that are developing in her particular area of expertise. Social media sites are places where insurance defense attorneys can find fresh, thought-provoking (and mostly FREE) commentary, blogs, podcasts and news stories. It’s where knowledge is exchanged, where ideas are discussed, where hot news hits first. It’s not just good business either. It’s also fun.
You need to send that woman a friend request and get her playing Farmville or something!

Fred Abramson October 15, 2009 at 11:30 am

I agree with you Karen. I think that part of our jobs as attorneys is to be up to date with current trends. Social media is a great way to do this.

J. LaValley October 15, 2009 at 9:08 pm


No offense, but in my view your friend was expressing a viewpoint that is not only short-sighted and obtuse (to put it mildly!), but ~ by the sound of it ~ just plain lazy. In fact, I might even say (based strictly on what you wrote) that her throw-away conclusion that social media is, in sum, “not worth the effort” comes close to crossing (or, at least, “bumping into”…) a number of ethical lines, since I do not believe that such a sweeping conclusion could possibly be supported by any kind of rigorous, formal (or even “back-of-the-envelope”) cost-benefit analysis on behalf of the client, the insurance company. (Indeed, how could it—as so aptly highlighted by your “soccer pix on Facebook” hypothetical, in which ten minutes spent on the Internet resulted in highly relevant, perhaps case-critical, evidence?)

The admissibility point is slightly more substantial. However, while I am unsure how the case law will ultimately unfold, we have already seen several cases reported in the trade and popular press (let alone circulated and recirculated to the nth degree on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), in which material and, in some cases, dispositive evidence that was developed and/or discovered via social media was admitted with little or no ado over sourcing, attribution, etc.

In short (and again, in my opinion only), you’re right; she was wrong; end of story!

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