BigLaw Associate 'Googles' Everyone Before Presenting Job Candidates to Firm #ABAChicago

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McCoy, Stell, Meyer, and Choe. Photo by REP3

Lawyers, even the infamous ones, are quasi public figures, and they should make online posts accordingly, said a panel of lawyers Saturday.

Indeed, Michele On-Ja Choe, a Sidley Austin associate who was part of the panel, says that when she interviews law students during on-campus interviewing, she Googles everyone before presenting candidates to her firm.

“This is my judgment; I take it seriously,” says Choe, who spoke at “What (Not) to Post!” a Saturday event sponsored by the ABA Commission on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.

Indeed, most large law firms now research summer associate candidates online, says Kathryn Stell, a Chicago sole practitioner on the ABA Annual Meeting panel. Previously, she was the diversity director at Sidley Austin.

“People have been allowed to develop a habit of posting things, and they have to think about what they’re getting into,” she says. “It’s hard to get much more conservative, in the social sense of the word, than a large law firm.”

As for Choe, photos of a job prospect drinking don’t bother her, for the most part.

“What’s gotten people totally knocked out of the running is extensive blogs talking about drug use, or blackouts,” she says. “You’ve just got to get that kind of stuff down.”

So how does one get objectionable content removed?

Talk to the site administrator, and actively monitor online presence with tools such as Google alerts says Stuart Meyer, founder and chief media strategist of Social Frequency Media Communications. The Chicago company helps organizations build their social media presence.

“If you think it’s bad now, this is one of the most game-changing pieces of technology, said Meyer, pulling out the new iPhone 3GS. “I could actually speak on here, push a button, and I’ve just posted to Twitter and Facebook,” he said.

And don’t be afraid to have conversations with those who post images or content that you’re not comfortable with, noted Jamenda A. McCoy, a Kirkland & Ellis associate who moderated the event. She mentioned that her father had posted photos of her and her children, and a pro bono criminal defense client came across his website.

“Please don’t post pictures of me unless you ask me,” she says. “I want to control what’s up about me and my family, and I should have the right to do that.”

Ages of the audience varied. Younger members wanted to know what to do about inappropriate photos that friends posted on MySpace, while some older lawyers were curious who owned the photos’ copyrights.

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