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Here is the Fox Interview Transcript with Kevin Connell

Wanna be a lawyer? Check your Facebook

TAMPA – Aspiring lawyers in the state of Florida already have to pass a thorough background check to become a licensed attorney. Thanks to social networking websites like Facebook, the process just got even tougher.

“People put stuff out on the web and they don’t utilize the privacy options that are available and it ends up being out there publicly for anyone to see,” said Michele Gavagni, Executive Director of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

The Board has adopted a new policy, utilizing social networking sites in character and background checks.

“We’re not doing something that a lot of other employers and other agencies aren’t considering as a possibility,” Gavagni said.

Kevin Connell’s company Accu-Screen Inc. in Tampa does background checks for employers.

He says he usually doesn’t recommend the use of social media in the application process.

“You’ll see groups that say I hate my lawyers. I hate all lawyers. These might be people that at one point they hated lawyers but now they want to become a lawyer,” said Connell.

The new policy only applies to bar applicants who’ve shown bad judgment in the past, like lying on applications or substance abuse.

Gavagni says if an applicant with a prior drinking problem told the board they stopped drinking, Facebook could easily show if that weren’t entirely true.

“Yet there were things on their Facebook site or somewhere that indicated they were out and still drinking, after they told us they weren’t.” She said that would be reason for concern.

Second year law student Jacob Hanson is all for the Board of Examiners taking a closer look.

“The employers are already looking at it and I don’t think there’s any reason why the Florida Bar shouldn’t look at it, as well. Students already expect it,” said Hanson.

At this point, the Board won’t ask for personal passwords, although they considered it. And the Florida Bar won’t be sending out any friend requests anytime soon.