LinkedIn. Facebook. Twitter. Blogs. Some say those social media sites provide criminal specialists brave new worlds of possibility, advertising, and collaboration. Others assert they’re minefields full of hazard for the unwary or unwitting.
Which is correct? Both, of direction. Yes, those diverse kinds of social media gift powerful possibilities. Yes, they also pose tremendous dangers.
So how can felony experts practice “safe social networking?” In the spirit of the subject, we grew to become social networking websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook to place that query to an expansion of attorneys and consultants.
From the feedback we received, we distilled their advice down to those pinnacle 10 recommendations.
10. Be professional – always
Remember which you are a lawyer 24/7. Behave like one and constantly be professional in something you do on-line.
Specifically, that approach is truthful in what you are saying approximately yourself, your abilities, and your practice. Be specifically careful inside the bio you put up on your website or blog, and within the profiles, you create for Facebook, LinkedIn, and other websites. Do no longer portray yourself to be something you are not.
Being an expert additionally, way no longer calling others names online. In particular, do not name judges’ names. As comical because it appears to mention that a Florida attorney becomes not guffawing after he turned into disciplined and fined lately for writing on his weblog that a choose became an “evil, unfair witch.”
In whatever you publish online, be aware of defensive your very own “brand” and your personal, professional recognition. “Participate – be a part of the verbal exchange,” advises Mark Beese, president of the consulting firm Leadership for Lawyers in Denver. “But don’t do something that could decrease your recognition. Think.”
9. Be considerate approximately who you connect to
One simple manner of defending yourself in social networks is to be cautious about who you connect to. Our tale ultimate month gave an obvious example of this in the story of the judge who “friended” a legal professional on Facebook whilst that attorney turned into representing a party in an ordeal before the judge. Not extraordinarily, the choice became reprimanded, and the dropping birthday party was given a brand new trial.
Another connection to keep away from is one made for an unethical purpose. An ethics panel has stated, for instance, that it is beside the point for a legal professional to friend someone to investigate the individual or to gain access to restricted records in connection with a felony action.
Also, be careful to keep away from connecting with others who may also have their own ulterior motives in connecting with you. And remember whether a connection or an endorsement ought to come lower someday back to haunt you as proof of a war of interest.
“While social media offers all of us literally heaps of connection possibilities, length of connections topics a whole lot much less than first-rate of interaction,” says Vanessa DiMauro, founder of the Boston social-media consulting company Leader Networks. “Be intentional, make first-rate impressions, and offer a fee to people who you join or interact with.”
A commonplace practice amongst prison experts is to segregate expert and personal contacts in different networks. “I still treat Facebook and LinkedIn separately,” says Reid Trautz, director of the Practice and Professionalism Center on the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C. “Facebook is for private use along with family, pals, and expert friends; LinkedIn is exactly for professional connections and expert friends.”
Joshua Masur, a partner with the regulation firm Turner Boyd in San Francisco, does equal the use of LinkedIn professionally, however, limiting his Facebook connections to buddies and near colleagues. “Of direction, which means you need to be inclined to attract strains,” he says, “this means that being inclined to say no whilst human beings ask to attach in a community which you’ve restrained.”
8. Don’t fall victim to the myth of anonymity
“I might by no means delude myself that socializing ‘anonymously’ on any of those systems is actually nameless, such as commenting on blogs,” cautions Susan Cartier Liebel, the Connecticut-primarily based founding father of Solo Practice University.
The Web’s recent history is replete with memories of the unmasking of legal specialists who concept they have been posting anonymously. There became the assistant U.S. Attorney who become exposed with the aid of a first-rate mag as a writer of a nameless weblog about judges. There turned into the in-residence legal professional at Cisco whose identity was revealed after a legal professional he wrote about as a patent troll presented a reward for his unmasking.
These examples show that a lawyer needs not feel safe to say anonymously what the attorney might not sense loose to mention with attribution.
Another size to this involves Facebook, wherein lawyers can create restrained companies and consequently feel more secure to speak their minds. If you’re considering this feature, make certain you educate yourself thoroughly on how to do it properly, advises Courtney Kennady, an exercise management consultant for the South Carolina Bar.
Even then, she adds, “There’s a robust caveat: do not anticipate Facebook’s restricted companies to restrict the entirety. It could be tough to understand what styles of gadgets will slip thru and be regarded via anybody.”
7. Watch the line between networking and soliciting
Lawyers sometimes stroll an excellent line between talking their minds and soliciting clients. They have each right to do the former and a pro obligation now not to do the latter.
One ethics opinion observed that a lawyer engaged in irrelevant solicitation while he published comments in a chat room for mass-catastrophe victims. It is easy to assume how a legal professional could get into similar trouble on Twitter.
Several states have both ethics rules or ethics reviews that especially cope with solicitation in digital communications. Protect yourself by using understanding the policies and exercise commonplace experience.
6. Exercise editorial discretion – over yourself and others
Say not anything online that you would now not want to be attributed to yourself at the New York Times’ front page. Do no longer anticipate that no one will examine your weblog or see your tweet. Once it is online, it is online forever, and it can and may be discovered.
That does now not suggest which you can’t display character or creativity, says Matthias Jung, director of Legal One Marketing in Houston. “It is ideal to allow your character shine thru to your target audience; however, it’s miles crucial to achieving this as if your mom or daughter have been sitting there beside you.”
However, that does imply to remember that clients and associates will read what you are saying. Lawyers every so often seems to neglect that their clients are following them online. If you would now not say it to a patron’s face, do no longer say it online.
Not only are customers studying what you say. However, they’re judging what you are saying. Apart from the danger of pronouncing something silly, this raises another viable situation for attorneys whose customers are reading them online, says Eric Turkewitz, a tribulation legal professional and blogger in New York City. “If you are often off-topic at some point of running hours, they’ll wonder why you are not operating on their case.”
If it’s miles important to censor yourself, it is also crucial to censor others. “If you have a weblog, ensure you approve all remarks before they may be posted,” advises Lorraine Fleck, a hallmark attorney and blogger in Toronto. “That was an awesome tip I were given from a veteran prison blogger, which has averted my weblog from becoming a haven for the ones advertising faux Viagra.”
Blogger and intellectual property lawyer Ronald Coleman sum it up this way: “Above all, responsibility is fundamental. Please don’t say it if you’re now not prepared to stay it or live with it. And if it’s not something you may lower back up — whether as a prison proposition or a genuine declaration — well, why might you want to say it in the first vicinity?”