Attorney Engagement With Social Media

social media concept

{4:12 minutes to read} Social media has changed communication in both our personal and professional lives. When I worked in “Big Law,” appropriate law firm response to social media was still being debated.

  • IT professionals expressed concern over data security and confidentiality breaches.
  • Marketing people feared that a firm’s image would be compromised or misused.
  • Typical responses included blocking social media websites, such as Facebook; and
  • Blogs were viewed with suspicion.

Over time, social media engagement became commonplace for law firms as attorneys began to recognize social media’s potential to:

  • Market legal services;
  • Build connections with other attorneys and potential clients; and
  • Gather and share information about law and its practice.

Today, the question is not whether law firms can engage with social media, but how.

⇒  Facebook, which started as a personal networking tool, has successfully transitioned into a powerful business marketing tool.

⇒  LinkedIn (a/k/a Facebook for professionals) has an express business focus. By relying on the power of exponential social networking, LinkedIn allows attorneys to identify and connect with potential clients. It also utilizes interactive discussion forums, providing a platform for firm outreach and marketing efforts.

⇒  Law blogging allows attorneys to establish themselves as an expert in a given area of law. It also presents valuable client development opportunities from reader generated leads. Nevertheless, only 34% of law firms have established blogs.

If you intend to participate in this brave new world, a lawyer must be conversant with the nuances of the social media network she is using. This is a serious challenge that lawyers must appreciate and not take lightly.

⇒  The comment to Rule 1.1 of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association was recently amended to provide: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of the changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education, and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.”

⇒  On March 18, 2014, the Social Media Committee of the Commercial and Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association announced Social Media Ethics Guidelines. Although these Guidelines don’t establish “best practices” (because the world of social media continues to evolve rapidly), they are predicated on the New York Rules of Professional Conduct.

⇒  It is also not always clear when a lawyer’s social media communication constitutes Attorney Advertising. The New York County Lawyers Association Professional Ethics Committee recently issued the following formal opinion: “A LinkedIn profile that contains only one’s education and current and past employment does not constitute Attorney Advertising. If an attorney includes additional information in his or her profile, such as description of areas of practice or certain skills or endorsements, the profile may be considered Attorney Advertising, and should contain the disclaimers set forth in rule 7.1.” An appropriate disclaimer is: “Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”

Notwithstanding the challenges associated with its use, social media allows the most attractive human characteristics to shine through, including authenticity, charisma, empathy, caring, and self awareness. Social media engagement has stripped away the curtain, creating a meritocracy among users. You are the editor. So, learn the rules and get with it!

Aimee B. Davis Law P.C. is committed to staying on top of legal issues and advising clients on the legal and business matters that are important to them. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at (917) 617-2243 or email aimee@aimeebdavis.com.

Aimee B. Davis
Aimee B. Davis Law P.C.
122 Ashland Place
Brooklyn, NY 11201
www.aimeebdavis.com
aimee@aimeebdavis.com

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