Why Lawyers Should Not Use Social Media

The comment I read on LinkedIn yesterday that individual lawyers should only tweet if it is in keeping with the corporate image is horrific.

It reflects an ongoing attitude towards this new fangled social media thing that still persists.  Should lawyers really be meddling with Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Reasons why not?

  1. Client confidentiality
  2. Liability for online comment
  3. Because your clients expect you not to.  Isn’t it for children? I mean, what do you talk about?

Here we go.

Client confidentiality is not a problem, or at least no more of a problem than having conversation with a friend in a pub, at a restaurant, the opera (if you insist), public transport (heaven forbid) or anywhere.  Client confidentiality means you don’t talk about your clients, whether online or offline.  It really isn’t complicated and most lawyers get that.  Really, we do.

Liability for online comment?

I’m not sure this has ever been a problem has it?  Has anyone been sued for someone’s reliance on the legal merit of a tweet, or posting.

Anyway, disclaimers abound, just don’t take my word for it, okay?

The “Client’s expectation” one though is the most pernicious.

Should a profession, whether lawyers, teachers, plasterers, whatever, be debarred or disapproved because they take part in what large parts of society do?  Surely not.

It would be like saying that because you’re a lawyer, you cannot go to a nightclub, or ride on public transport. My! What would people say?

Of course we need to be mature and responsible, as does a bus driver, or councillor, or a dentist, or a parent who runs the home.  But disallowing or disapproving is nonsense.

Rant over.

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7 Comments

Filed under Law, Lawyers and Social Media

7 responses to “Why Lawyers Should Not Use Social Media

  1. Let me have your thoughts, but one thought that occurs to me is this.

    Is the question “Should lawyers tweet?” or is it “Should we allow people who work as lawyers to tweet…?”

    Rant really over, unless someone gets me started again.

  2. Times are changing and peoples expectations and needs are changing too. If I see that a professional is promoting his/her business and debating ideas on developments and innovations in their field, I am more likely to give that person my business. I can see that they are not afraid to be open about their skills and challenges.
    With a responsible, interesting and engaging presentation the professional is being creative, hopefully having some fun, and promoting a service that is awake to the changing world.

  3. This has to be right. As times change I think the conventional anticipation that “Professionals don’t do social media” will shift. If the noises from the American blogosphere are correct then it a lawyer is expected to have a blog, a presence or a portfolio of online “assets” whether articles, videos, comments and the like.

    Good to see you on here Eamonn, and thanks for commenting

  4. An interesting post Neil – it would be useful to see the original LinkedIn comment, but I presume that what you summarise above is the gist of it.

    At first glance, the client confidentiality point just seems bizarre – of course this is an issue, but the rules are no different in social media than in any other arena.

    I think there is some scope for lawyers to slip up here though – for example I have seen lawyers do a #followfriday mention referencing “great clients x y and z” and wondered whether they have actually obtained their consent to do this.

    The last point is certainly the most interesting though. There may be some clients and contacts who do think that your involvement in social media is trivial or “sad”… but my experience is that there are many more who are surprised and impressed that you have a grasp of it. I can’t see any possible argument that using Twitter (for example) could bring a lawyer or the profession into disrepute… although obviously the contents of your tweets could certainly do so.

    Just for the sake of argument, what do you think would happen if the SRA (or equivalent regulatory body overseas) did come out and “ban” lawyers from using social media?

  5. Pingback: Social networking and client confidentiality « Reading Tea Leaves by Randy Wilson

  6. Randy Wilson

    Client confidentiality:

    I think this can be more complicated online. Here is a possible scenario: http://rlwilsonconsulting.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/social-networking-and-client-confidentiality/

  7. Hi Randy and thanks for linking through to us “skittish” Brits ; )

    I’ve commented on your blog and encourage others to go and have look. It’s good to meet you.

    Jon, good to see you as well (also an excellent blog at Peninsulawyer) the original comment was this;

    ” If you adopt the view that people buy people then i can see that twitter can be a very powerful marketing tool but only so long as what you are saying about yourself – your twitter identity – reflects the corporate image.”

    I don’t want to attribute it to anyone because I am not attacking them so much as the prevalent attitude inherent in the comment.

    Have a great weekend everyone.

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