Last Friday Ken had the pleasure of leading a group of law students during orientation week at John Marshall Law School. There, members of the class of 2019 got their first taste of their legal education. Fun fact: It was a mere 27 years ago when Ken took his first class at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.
Each year the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism promotes the virtues of “integrity, civility, and professionalism” among incoming law students. The commission asks students to take an oath to uphold those standards, followed by teaching sessions with practicing attorneys that are recruited by the commission to pass along the knowledge they’ve acquired while working in the field.
After a quick introduction by John Marshall department head Clifford Scott-Rudnick, the students were taken to classrooms for breakout sessions. Ken led an open-ended discussion about legal ethics and the mandates of the American Bar Association, part of which included an analysis of three scenarios pulled from actual cases and the implications of each situation.
One of the more interesting scenarios was a situation involving a client’s Facebook account that alluded to several instances of violence and the use of a handgun. The ethical dilemma: Should the defense counsel advise their client to delete their Facebook account? Nearly everyone agreed that attorneys should advise their client to delete incriminating social media posts, so it came as a surprise when Ken explained that doing so would be unethical. Ken also pointed out that attorneys should advise clients to refrain from posting on social media when it comes to potential or pending cases, and suggested that changing their privacy settings was a good option. Deleting or destroying potential evidence, however, is problematic.
The revelation brought about a spirited conversation, which raised good points about the impact of social media in the legal profession and how attorneys need to handle it. Ken was particularly pleased to see everyone taking part in a respectful debate, “the first of many to come,” he joked.
Students at John Marshall Law School formally begin classes this week.