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Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

LMA – Bay Area Chapter Program Discusses Digital Disasters and How to Avoid Them

By Michael Bond, Blattel Communications

On May 15, the Legal Marketing Association – Bay Area Chapter presented “Digital Disasters: Lessons Learned.” The program featured Per Casey, President at Tenrec, Inc; Rob Corwin, Creative Strategist at Hanson Bridgett; and Jeff Yerkey, Web + Interactive Director at Right Hat.

The panel shared some stories of full-blown digital disasters – none involving their own firms, of course – and offered some advice on how to avoid them.

One of the topics addressed was the idea of real estate for law firms in the digital world. This encompasses everything from Twitter handles to vanity URLs. Corwin noted that carefully documenting and securing the credentials to these assets is critical.

A specific digital disaster he referenced was an IT professional’s forward-thinking registration of a domain name for a proposed – but not yet announced – law firm merger. An enterprising reporter uncovered this, leaving both firms in a bind.

Corwin also noted the importance of registering a wide array of domain names, including those that are disparaging as a defensive measure. Casey added the example of a firm that had created a LinkedIn page and erroneously assumed that this simultaneously created a Twitter handle.

Another major concern for law firms is the licensing and use of images. Yerkey noted that there is a general lack of understanding by the public about which images can be used freely versus those requiring licensing. He described the ability to search for images on Google, with respect to designing websites or accompanying blog posts, as a “horrible” thing because license holders frequently have their work repurposed without their consent.

Corwin described how Hanson Bridgett has taken a novel approach to its website by employing images licensed under Creative Commons, which simply need to be attributed to the photographer. Casey discussed the inherent risk in using stock photos as firms may find a photo used on the website is also used by a number of other companies.

In planning for the future, Casey stressed that technology projects be undertaken with an eye on emerging trends. He recalled a time when a company burned thousands of CDs based on software that was updated during the production time, rendering information inaccessible.

All three speakers stressed heavily testing every product and service. Yerkey’s mantra is, “A backup isn’t a backup unless it’s tested.”

The promise and full potential of interconnectedness and greater accessibility offered by technology is only tempered by the very real pitfalls that poor planning and execution create. This program helped provide attendees with a better sense of just what lurks out there and how to steer clear of it.



Michael Bond is the vice-chair of the Legal Marketing Association – Bay Area Chapter Program Committee and an account executive at Blattel Communications. He can be reached at

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