Lawyers have all kinds of rules to follow when it comes to practicing law, giving legal advice, and advertising. As social media has expanded over the last few years, one study suggests that 3/4 of lawyers belong to at least one online social network such as LinkedIn, facebook, and twitter. If you look to either side of this blog, you can see that I am squarely within that 3/4 group.
There is nothing wrong with lawyers belonging to social networks, is there? In my mind, they are free tools that provide an enormous community for users to share ideas and connect with people that would otherwise be unavailable.
But, lawyers must use their heads when using these networks. Common sense and experience should be sufficient for most lawyers. Perhaps the most important key to avoiding foot-in-mouth disease is to proofread, review, and THINK. We have all had that sickening feeling in the pit of our stomach when we click “send” when we meant to click “cancel” on an email. Even worse, is the classic “reply all” when “reply to sender” was the intent. You can’t take those emails back, but at least the audience is limited to (hopefully) a short cc: list. But, when you post a status update on facebook, all of your “friends” see it, your friends’ friends may see it, and eventually your post will be indexed by Google and may permanently link your name with your entertaining bathroom mishap in search results.
A recent article by Vicki Voisin sets out some examples of lawyers that should have thought twice before using social media. One example sums up why caution, care, and though should be the focus: