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Can law firms intervene with employee blogs?

April 18, 2005

The New York Times has a page one article asking “When the Blogger Blogs, Can the Employer Intervene?

Employees are finding that corporations, which spend millions of dollars protecting their brands don’t tolerate threats from the activities of people who become identified with those brands, even if it is on their personal Web sites. As the Times says “They are also learning that the law offers no special protections for blogging – certainly no more than for any other off-duty activity.”

Turns out employees can confuse freedom of speech with a freedom from consequences that follow. An employee may have the right to say something but they do not have the right to a job if the employer disagrees with their writing.

As Annalee Newitz, a policy analyst with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights advocacy group in Washington, was quoted in the Times, “There are really no laws to protect you. …The vast majority of states are considered ‘at will’ states – meaning that employees can quit, and employers can fire them, at will – without evident reason (barring statutory exceptions like race or religion, where discrimination would have to be proved).”

Should lawyers be concerned about losing their jobs over publishing a blog? If they are being critical of their firm and the firm’s practices, sure. But if they are publishing legal information on a niche area of the law to enhance the lawyer’s reputation and grow business, I think not.

Source of post: The Red Couch

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