Social media is a great tool for lawyers and others to market themselves – but there are also traps.
Nevada-based law firm Payne & Fears recently published an article outlining the ethical pitfalls that attorneys face when they enter the realm of social media, as well as offering some key tips to avoid the traps.
Payne & Fears lawyers Kelby Van Patten, Irvine Partner and Sheenika Gandhi looked at the ethical traps like claiming a lawyer is an expert, obtaining endorsements and the like.
The article usefully covers a range of social media platforms with practical tips – such as attorneys providing advice via forums like Avva and Quora (take care with advice and how it is delivered, offer disclaimers and ensure you’re able to provide the advice).
Similarly, chat rooms and other online resources present problems, as the authors note –
Providing online legal advice may, depending on the circumstances: involve practicing law
in a jurisdiction in which the attorney is not licensed, inadvertently create attorney-client relationships, violate confidentiality requirements or expose an attorney to malpractice claims. The safe
course is not to practice law online.
But they also looked at the issues arising from Twitter and Facebook posts and just what amounts to an advertisement on those social media – issues that Bar Associations are currently grappling with.
The authors noted some practical pointers –
Facebook, focus your posts to showcase your community involvement (e.g. volunteer roles, charitable contributions), firm culture (highlight attorney accomplishments, company socials) and valuable content (e.g. legal alerts, checklists).
Always use photos in your posts! Make sure to receive client permission before posting any accomplishments that relate to a current client. Twitter is a noisier platform compared to Facebook, so posting as often as possible is key. Make sure to use relevant hashtags and tag organizations. Pay attention to Twitter when attending conferences or industry events, as it is the best time to find and meet prospective clients who are also participating.