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#KHFOnEmojisandtheLaw

Emoji overload? Billions of emojis are sent each day by family, friends, colleagues, co-workers and companies. With nearly 3,000 emojis in the Unicode Standard, it is difficult to stay fluent in emoji, which some experts have described as “the birth of a new language.” Edward T. Kang, Managing Member of Kang Haggerty & Fetbroyt LLC (“KHF”) and Kandis L. Kovalsky, Associate at KHF are working to shed light on the significance of emojis in business and in law.

At the end of September, Edward, Kandis and Jacklyn Fetbroyt, Member of KHF, joined hundreds of other lawyers at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (“NAMWOLF”) to promote diversity in the legal profession through meetings, sessions and CLEs.  KHF presented a hit CLE to a full room titled “Emojis Speaking Louder Than Words? The Import of Emojis, Emoticons and Hashtags as Evidence at Trial and Beyond #😊.” Joined by five other panelists and a moderator, Edward discussed evidentiary and ethical issues involving emojis, social media and technology and why lawyers should care about emojis and hashtags.

By explaining how emojis can be used as critical evidence at trial, Edward and the other panelists helped practicing lawyers from all over the country understand that emojis are in more than a millennial’s social media feed. Emojis have found their way into courts through a variety of suits.

Emojis have come a long way since their 1999 introduction to Japanese mobile phones. They are relied on for marketing campaigns, customer satisfaction surveys and inter-office communications. The commonality of emojis in every-day conversation has led to many controversies and misunderstandings.

In October, Edward and Kandis co-authored an article in The Legal Intelligencer on emojis titled “Why Lawyers Should Care About Emojis.” In the article, Edward and Kandis discuss the ethical duty of technology competence, as provided for by Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.1, which has been adopted by 31 states, including Pennsylvania; the challenges emojis pose in discovery; and using emojis as evidence at trial.

Emojis are not going away anytime soon, and their importance should not be underestimated. As is often the case with so many areas of the legal field, lawyers must be adaptable to changing times. Technology has brought some of the most profound changes to the practice of law and continues to do so. Lawyers should be diligent in remaining apprised of maintaining their technological competence – meaning lawyers should have a basic understanding of emojis and social media and their place in the law.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic or would like to have the CLE presented at your company, please contact KHF directly.

KHF is a boutique law firm offering counseling and representation for a wide range of legal issues in the following areas of law: business litigation, construction law, bankruptcy and loan workout matters, real estate law, class actions, estate planning and administration, as well as insurance bad faith litigation.