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Yukevich | Cavanaugh Law Firm Blog: From Jim's Desk

Yukevich | Cavanaugh Law Firm Blog: From Jim's Desk

Friday, July 12, 2013

From Jim's Desk

Very recently, I was in Day 2 of voir dire, asking potential jurors whether they had any pre-existing opinions about my corporate client.  When chatting with one man, I learned that—just the night before—he had gone online and actually performed several searches about the company I represented.  Just one day earlier he had no opinion about my client; but on day two, all that had changed.

Now we all know that jurors should not conduct independent investigations of any kind.  In fact, they’re specifically told by the judge not to do that.  And as much as I appreciated this man’s honesty, I wondered—how many jurors misunderstand or simply disregard that admonition?  And how many others just happen to have conducted searches on my client before they were ever called to jury service? 

But most important: What are they seeing and how might that influence their verdict?

In a recent YC blog, we discussed corporate responsibility when it comes to engaging in social media.  To access that article, click here.

In an ideal world, all jurors would follow their oath to the letter.  I may be naïve, but I like to think that the vast majority do.  But for that one juror who does not—or for those jurors who searched you long before trial even began—how is online content shaping their opinion of you? 

Today, I invite all of you to set aside an hour of your time and conduct a vanity search.  Google yourself.  Bing yourself.  Yelp yourself.  Epinions yourself.  Angie’s List yourself.  BBB yourself.  Then, step back and put yourself into the eyes of someone who is not a corporate representative.

The sad truth is, in many circumstances, there won’t be a whole lot you can do in the short-term if you discover that the general online attitude about your company is negative.  But it might provide you guidance as you move forward.  Maybe you’ll decide you want to rethink a particular corporate policy that is unpopular with the masses.  Maybe you’ll discover that you need to address a problem of which you were not aware.

In some instances, you may even want to address head-on remarks being made about your company or your product.  If you encounter a site that is particularly cringe-worthy, you may want to talk with your marketing and legal department—or your YC attorney—to craft a delicate but pointed response to those remarks.  Worst case scenario—you may find that some sites include entirely false, defamatory statements about your company.  In that case, you’ll want to act especially quickly in seeking guidance to get those statements removed.

At any rate, we are living in the digital age.  Everyone has a powerful online forum at their fingertips, and it seems that everyone is a critic.  Fair or not, the court of public opinion is having a profound impact in actual courtrooms.  That being said, it never hurts to get a handle on your own online reputation.

In today's other post, YC Partner Cristina Ciminelli provides you with helpful prep tips that you can take to any deposition—whether you’re being deposed about your corporate decisions or whether your family dog bit the neighbor lady.  

For a link to YC’s Five Step Deposition Primer, click here.

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