The powerful tool that is social media has been increasingly utilized by attorneys, providing a great outlet for reputation building and networking. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn make professional communication with clients and colleagues much easier, but unfortunately, this ease can make room for ethical and practical missteps that may severely damage a reputation rather than build one.
There are ways to make sure that you use social media to your advantage, preventing you from making embarrassing moves and upsetting clients.
Conceal All Confidential Information
Even if you believe you’re in a private chat with someone on a social media site, you should be as careful as possible to never disclose personal or client information in a chat. Many websites work with sites like Facebook and may automatically post information about your activities to your profile, which may reveal more than you want people to know. One example of potentially harmful information would be a simple unintentional tag on a photograph or post, revealing a location and the time you were there. That information might even reveal something about a client you don’t want others to see. Also, it’s common courtesy to remind those you talk with online that they should refrain from disclosing private information.
Maintain Ethical Rules of Conduct
The Model Rule of Professional Conduct 4.1 – prohibiting lawyers from making false statements while representing a client – still applies to social media outlets. Model Rule 7.1 is another that prevents the spread of false information, specifically regarding the attorneys’ services.
At times, it’s easy to make exaggerated statements online about your law firm, but you need to make sure that nothing you say lands you or your firm in trouble. The slightest guarantee of client satisfaction in a post can wind up getting you sued if that satisfaction isn’t accomplished. Clients and people employed by your firm may be able to make comments about the firm, so you should also make sure that they don’t make false statements about your services. Any questionable comments that you may be held accountable for should be deleted.
Avoid Using Insults of All Kinds
Out of honor for your practice, it may seem like a simple task to not badmouth colleagues, opposing counsel or clients on a public forum, but many attorneys find the Internet to be a great release for their frustrations. Attorneys may keep clients and others anonymous in their insults, but if the people insulted were to somehow find out discover these comments, they may take action because of them. It can also harm your reputation if people discover that you readily insult those you work with. It’s for these reasons that you should refrain from using any insults on the Internet.
Remember to practice careful habits when online. Don’t post anything slanderous that might prevent you from taking on worthwhile clients, and make sure that your firm manages to remain respectable.