Thursday, January 07, 2010

Social Media to co-ordinate class legal actions?

This week I have been thinking about social media in the legal services arena.

Whilst the parallels and opportunities for an intellectual property and IT lawyer such as myself are easy to identify there are so many areas of law such as litigation where the opportunities of social media are lost on many.

For example one of the most lucrative areas for law firms is advising and prosecuting class action litigation or "class suit" litigation in the US and I think social media could transform this area.

Wikepedia sums up class actions more succinctly here but it means suing on behalf of a number of people who have been wronged in the same way by the same defendant. Or they all have the same complaint of the same defendant which has caused them loss. The coal miners in the UK is one example of class action with 30,000 claimants suing the government.

Firstly, social media could be used by law firms to identify claimants who have similar complaints thus creating the class and increasing the number of clients it is representing. This could be facilitated by setting up groups on facebook or using trending applications in twitter to identify people having conversations about similar problems.

Secondly, social media could be a way of disseminating non-confidential updates or case progress to a large number of people in a collaborative way. As a by-product a group of claimants on a social media platform may have the effect of acting as a support group for like minded people who have suffered the same loss or damage.

There will of course be risks with this kind of transparency but various social media platforms allow for different levels of accessibility although management of these could be burdensome.

Interesting times.

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