Are you a Luddite lawyer? Does the term “social media” cause you to have panic attacks about privacy and confidentiality? Or do you have a list of excuses for why you don’t care for social media? Attorneys went to law school for a reason, right?
For better or worse, attorneys cannot afford to put their hands in the sand when it comes to social media. As the ABA has noted, attorneys need to understand how social media works in order to competently represent their clients.
In 2012, the ABA amended Model Rule 1.1, Comment 8 on Maintaining Competence so that it reads:
“To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of 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.” For example, more and more courts are allowing discovery into social media accounts, regardless of whether the accounts are public or private, so it is becoming increasingly imperative that attorneys not only understand how social media works, but also how to conduct their own research on the various sites.
Additionally, social media can benefit a law practice in other ways. It is a unique medium which can allow you to interact with others, set yourself apart in your field of practice, and may increase your overall online visibility.
Attorneys need to overcome the following social media hurdles:
Social media is not relevant to my practice.
I don’t even know what I should be aware of.
I don’t know where to begin.
There are so many choices out there. What do I need to think about for each one?
With all the other demands that come with my law practice, I just don’t have time for social media.
I’m worried I’ll make a mistake.
What ethical considerations do I need to be aware of?
Any other considerations?
Today, there are a few companies that will handle all of your social media requirements (for a fee), including website building and maintenance; website hosting; domain registration; SEO, management of social media sites and peer review sites.
[Modified, as originally reported in FindLaw.]