LinkedIn. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Some say these social media sites provide legal experts with courageous new worlds of possibility, marketing, and collaboration. Others assert they’re minefields full of a chance for the unwary or unwitting.
Which is correct? Both, of direction. Yes, those various styles of social media gift powerful possibilities. Yes, they also pose sizable risks. So how can felony specialists exercise “secure social networking?” In the spirit of the subject, we became too social networking websites and LinkedIn and Facebook to place that query to the diffusion of attorneys and consultants. From the comments we acquired, we distilled their recommendation down to these pinnacle 10 guidelines.
1. Be professional – always
Remember which you are an attorney 24/7. Behave like one and always be professional in anything you do online. That method, especially, is sincere in what you say about yourself, your talents, and your practice. Be mainly careful with the bio you post on your website or weblog and in the profiles you create for Facebook, LinkedIn, and other websites. Do now not painting yourself to be something you aren’t.
Being an expert additionally the manner no longer calling others names online. In specific, do now not name judges’ names. As comical as it appears to say that, a Florida legal professional turned into not laughing after he became disciplined and fined recently for writing on his weblog that a choose was an “evil, unfair witch.” In anything you submit online, pay attention to shielding your very own “emblem” and your own professional reputation. “Participate – be part of the conversation,” advises Mark Beese, president of the consulting company Leadership for Lawyers in Denver. “But don’t do something that would diminish your recognition. Think.”
2. Be considerate approximately who you connect to
One simple way to shield yourself from social networks is to be cautious about who you connect with. Our story closing month gave an obvious instance of this in the judge who “friended” a legal professional on Facebook whilst that legal professional becomes representing a celebration in a tribulation earlier than the decision. Not particularly, the decision turned into reprimanded, and the dropping birthday celebration was given a new trial.
Another connection to avoid is one made for a bent cause. An ethics panel has stated, as an example, that it’s miles irrelevant for a legal professional to pal a person to analyze the character or to gain get right of entry to limited statistics in connection with a prison motion. Also, be cautious to keep away from connecting with others who may additionally have their very own ulterior reasons for connecting with you. And don’t forget whether a connection or an endorsement ought to come back someday to haunt you as evidence of a conflict of interest.
“While social media offers all of us actually hundreds of connection opportunities, length of connections topics tons less than excellent of interaction,” says Vanessa DiMauro, founding the father of the Boston social-media consulting company Leader Networks. “Be intentional, make superb impressions, and provide a price to people with who you connect or have interaction.”
A not unusual practice amongst felony specialists is to segregate expert and private contacts in specific networks. “I nevertheless treat Facebook and LinkedIn one by one,” says Reid Trautz, director of the Practice and Professionalism Center at the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C. “Facebook is for private use along with own family, friends, and professional pals; LinkedIn is strictly for professional connections and expert buddies.”
Joshua Masur, an accomplice with the law company Turner Boyd in San Francisco, does equal the use of LinkedIn professionally but restricting his Facebook connections to buddies and near colleagues. “Of direction, this means that you need to be willing to draw traces,” he says, “because of this being willing to mention no when people ask to connect in a community that you’ve constrained.”
3. Don’t fall victim to the parable of anonymity
“I could in no way delude myself that socializing ‘anonymously’ on any of those systems is honestly anonymous, such as commenting on blogs,” cautions Susan Cartier Liebel, the Connecticut-primarily based founder of Solo Practice University. The Web’s current history is replete with stories of the unmasking of prison specialists who idea they had been posting anonymously. There changed into the assistant U.S. Legal professional who becomes uncovered by using a first-rate mag as a writer of an anonymous blog about judges. There turned into the in-house attorney at Cisco whose identification become revealed after a lawyer he wrote about as a patent troll provided praise for his unmasking.
These examples display that a lawyer must no longer experience safe to say anonymously what the lawyer would no longer sense free to mention with attribution. Another dimension to this entails Facebook, in which lawyers can create limited corporations and therefore experience more security to speak their minds. If you’re considering this option, make sure you train yourself very well in a way to do it well, advises Courtney Kennady, an exercise management consultant for the South Carolina Bar. Even then, she provides, “There’s a strong caveat: don’t anticipate Facebook’s constrained groups to restrict the entirety. It is tough to know what kinds of objects will slip via and be regarded by using everybody.”
4. Watch the road among networking and soliciting
Lawyers every so often stroll the first-rate line among speaking their minds and soliciting customers. They have each right to do the former and a pro-responsibility not to do the latter. One ethics opinion discovered that a lawyer engaged in besides the point solicitation whilst he posted remarks in a talk room for mass-catastrophe victims. It is simple to imagine how a lawyer could get into comparable trouble on Twitter. Several states have ethics regulations or ethics critiques that mainly address solicitation in electronic communications. Protect yourself via knowing the rules and exercise common sense.
5. Exercise editorial discretion – over yourself and others
Say nothing online that you could not need to be attributed to yourself on the New York Times’ front page. Do not expect that no person will read your weblog or see your tweet. Once it is online, it is online all the time, and it can and can be located. That does no longer mean that you can’t show persona or creativity, says Matthias Jung, director of Legal One Marketing in Houston. “It is good to let your personality shine through on your target market; however, it’s miles crucial to accomplishing that as if your mom or daughter were sitting there beside you.””
However, that does mean to understand that customers and colleagues will study what you say. Lawyers now and then appear to overlook that their customers are following them online. If you will now not say it to a customer’s face, do not say it online. Not only are customers reading what you are saying. However, they may be judging what you say. Apart from the danger of saying something stupid, this increases another feasible subject for legal professionals whose customers are analyzing them online, says Eric Turkewitz, a tribulation legal professional and blogger in New York City. “If you are frequently off-subject matter at some point in running hours, they’ll marvel why you are not operating in their case.”
If it’s miles vital to censor yourself, it is also important to censor others. “If you’ve got a weblog, make sure you approve all remarks before they may be published,” advises Lorraine Fleck, an indicator attorney and blogger in Toronto. “That was an incredible tip I got from a veteran prison blogger, which has averted my blog from becoming a haven for the ones advertising faux Viagra.”
Blogger and intellectual property lawyer Ronald Coleman sum it up this manner: “Above all, responsibility is prime. Please don’t say it if you’re now not organized to stay it or live with it. And if it’s now not something you could lower back up — whether or not as a criminal proposition or a genuine declaration — well, why would you need to say it within the first vicinity?”