Posted by Robert Half Legal on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 - 00:00 | Follow me
Social media has become such a prevalent part of the modern world that no successful business can ignore it. Social media can be an excellent tool to promote your firm, recruit staff, obtain customer feedback, and reduce marketing costs – but it also comes with risks.
Here are five tips on how to employ social media wisely as part of your law practice management while mitigating potential threats that come from unprofessional use of these networks.
Social Media Usage Tips for Legal Professionals
Conduct a risk assessment. Every law firm and corporate legal department should fully assess the possible risks associated with use of social media sites, including the possibility of violating state advertising rules. It's particularly crucial that organizations address whether their activities on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or other sites pose the risk of ethical violations, such as providing legal advice, inadvertently practicing law outside of the company's state or posting misleading statements. The American Bar Association hasn't released guidelines on social media use, so firms should look to their state's ethics rules and opinions when evaluating their use of social networks.
Develop a social media policy. All firms and companies should develop a policy that addresses recommended best practices for social media use. The policy should detail how social media should be used to support the business, such as posting useful legal information and news. It should also address how social media shouldn't be used. For example, attorneys should never provide legal advice online nor communicate with clients or opposing parties through online networks.
Provide social media training. Once a policy is developed, it should be distributed to all attorneys and staff. And firms should provide training on the professional risks associated with social media sites – for example, inadvertently betraying client confidentiality, speaking with opposing parties or practicing outside the state in which the attorney is licensed.
Enforce the policy. It’s not sufficient to develop social media guidelines and communicate them with employees – enforcement of the policy is key. Firms should pay close attention to what is posted on its social media pages, particularly if the platforms allow for public comment. Organizations need to be aware of any inappropriate remarks as soon as possible so they can be removed. Also, if it comes to the firm's attention that an employee may have inappropriate or unethical content on a public social media site, the firm should thoroughly investigate the claim, taking follow-up action if and when warranted.
Revisit the policy and revise it as needed. Because social media sites and the Internet are constantly changing, firms should review their social media policies once a year or more frequently to determine if changes are needed; and if so, make updates or additions as required and communicate the changes to staff.
Law firms and in-house legal departments should delve into the risks associated with social media prior to creating profiles for their business. By using social media professionally, organizations can better connect with potential clients and other organizations in the legal industry – without taking legal risks during the process.
For more information about social media in the legal profession, visit Robert Half Legal's Future Law Office.