Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social“


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An Overview of Social Media Platforms and Ethic Rules for lawyers to adhere to while using social media tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook.
Applying the ABA Model Rules using Social Media:
Rule 7.1: False or Misleading Information
Rule 7.3: Use of Disclaimers
Rule 1.6: Confidentiality of Client Communications
Rule 7.2: Are your social media sites considered advertising
Rule 7.3: Solicitation vs Advertising
Rule 7.4: Specialization and Expert Status
Tips for building ethically compliant profile

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Your Social Media Presence – Adhering to Ethics Rules While Being Social“

  1. 1. LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 1
  2. 2. Presented By:Peggy GruenkeLegalBizSuccessEthics CLE SeminarLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 - 2
  3. 3.  Great tool for◦ Building Relationships◦ Marketing (It’s Free)◦ Building Brand Awareness & Reputation◦ Cultivating Referrals◦ Learning From Others While Passing onSome of Your Own KnowledgeLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 3
  4. 4.  Established in 2009, in the context of advancesin technology and global legal practicedevelopments.◦ Recognizing technology is transforming the practice oflaw. Social Media and Social Networking:◦ Allows users to upload profiles, post articles, joinnetworks, add friends, educate and share LegalOnRamp, LinkedIn, LawLink, Avvo, JDSupra, Facebook Growth of lawyers using SM:◦ 2008: 15%◦ 2009: 43%◦ 2012: 70% depending on surveyLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 4
  5. 5. LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 52012 ABA Legal Technology SurveyReport
  6. 6. Learn how to use Social Mediaethically and easily toincrease your comfort levelThe rise of social media representsa renewed focus onrelationships, the foundation ofyour profession.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 6
  7. 7.  It’s no longer just for kids◦ Facebook 1.1B users◦ LinkedIn 225M Users Average income of LinkedIn member: over $100,000◦ Twitter 300+M Tweets/day Let me that People do business with people theyknow, like and trustLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 7
  8. 8. SM gives you an ability to:o Create a focused messageo LinkedIn Groupso Google+ & Google Hangoutso Blogso Build an audienceo Blogso Twittero LinkedIno Facebook Pageso Be strategic in your message to achievethe goal of more businessLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 8
  9. 9. The same familiar ethics rules that guide youroffline marketing and advertising will guideyour online conduct.◦ A communication that is inherentlyunethical, doesn’t become acceptable whenposted as a tweet or status update.◦ A blog post explaining a recent case or how tofile a BY, doesn’t become bar regulatedadvertising just because it was published online.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 9
  10. 10.  A lawyer may not make false or misleadingcommunication about the lawyer or the lawyerservices.◦ ..if it false or misleading, contains misrepresentationof facts or law, or omits a fact necessary to make thestatement as a whole not misleading. Types of SM Sites:◦ LinkedIn profiles◦ Directory Sites◦ Blogging◦ FacebookLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 10
  11. 11.  To avoid being misleading:◦ Keep online presence up to date Dates of employment States admitted Practice areas Address, phone numbers Current positions, awards◦ Include disclaimers to prevent creating misleadingexpectations When posting articles, date the post andinclude a note that the content was accurate atdate of the writing.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 11
  12. 12.  Testimonials are ethical red flags inadvertising.◦ “The best lawyers in town”◦ “Highest Level of Excellence”◦ “Settled my case fast”◦ Comparative statements that cannot befactually substantiated.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 12
  13. 13.  Review each Recommendation Testimonyto make sure your client did not useprohibited words: Best, Super, Fast, Most Experienced, BestResults If you have control over testimonials orrecommendation on a 3rd partysite, you are responsible for makingsure the posting is ethicallycompliant. LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 13
  14. 14.  Comment 3 to Rule 7.1 of the Ohio Rules ofProfessional Conduct also states that past caseresult, testimonials, or any other advertisement thatreports on a lawyers achievements on behalf ofanother client may be misleading if presented in away that would create an expectation that the sameresults would be obtained for another client in asimilar situation. Testimonials on an Ohio attorneyswebsite or other internet marketing material are oftenproblematic because a former client will naturallyattempt to compare their attorney to other attorneys.Often, former clients are overzealous in theirdescription without providing enough informationthat puts the comment in the proper context.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 14
  15. 15.  Endorsements: Be wary of endorsing someoneyou know exclusively from social media sitesand have never met.◦ You should specify your limited in-person knowledgewhen writing the endorsement◦ LinkedIn Endorsements for Skills Reciprocal endorsements and giving somethingto someone for recommending you:◦ This is prohibited;◦ Be careful of offering reciprocal Recommendations onsites like LinkedIn.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 15
  16. 16.  Is Your LinkedIn Profile/FacebookPage/Twitter Bio Considered Advertising◦ If your online activities promote a law practice, thenit is considered lawyer advertising (ABA FormalOpinion 10-457)◦ Error on the side “Yes it is” Your SM sites, which promote you as alawyer:◦ LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ pages, Directory sites◦ Bios and Summary PagesLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 16
  17. 17.  Rule 7.2(c) requires any communicationconsidered advertising to include:◦ Name of lawyer or law firm (LinkedIn firmpages, Facebook pages, Google Places)◦ Office address Include “Advertisement Only” on site Prior review of advertisement material◦ KY – required for website; for directory sites SM sites? No separate ruling◦ You Tube videos embedded on sitesLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 17
  18. 18. Direct Contact:In-person, live telephone or real-timeelectronic communicationSolicitation vs. AdvertisingSolicitation involves direct contact with a specificperson or group of people for the purpose ofgetting hiredAre SM sites “real-time communication orgeneral advertising”?LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 18
  19. 19.  On many SM sites, If there is a degree of a“personal relationship” already established.Rule 7.3 allows solicitation if person contacted isfamily, friend, another lawyer, or prior professionalrelationship. LinkedIn Invites to Connect, Facebook Friends Tweeting your availability to represent a carcrash victim that just posted about the carcrash he was just in is solicitation.◦ Twitter as a real time communication micro-blog, can create unique ethical opportunities.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 19
  20. 20. Every electronic communication from a lawyerto a prospective client known to be in need oflegal services should include the words“Advertising Material” unless it falls underone of the exceptions listed in Rule 7.3. On SM Sites:“ I invite you to contact me. Contacting me does notcreate an attorney-client relationship. Please do notinclude any confidential information in yourcommunications. I encourage you to visit my website orcall me at 513-315-5750. Thank you for reaching outto me. I will be in touch shortly.”LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 20
  21. 21.  Include a disclaimer on your Facebook AboutSection, LinkedIn Profile and Firm LinkedInpage.“The information on this site is not, nor is notintended to be, legal advice. You should consult anattorney for individual advice regarding your ownsituation. ADVERTISEMENT ONLY” For Twitter Bio section – use “AdvertisementOnly”.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 21
  22. 22.  Please consult an attorney for advice aboutyour individual situation. This site and itsinformation is not legal advice, nor is itintended to be. Feel free to get in touch byelectronic mail, letters or phone calls.Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Until an attorney-clientrelationship is established, please withholdfrom sending any confidential information tous.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 22
  23. 23. Claiming yourself as an expert or specialistrequires special certification by anapproved, accredited authority. Under Rule 7.4 (e) of the Ohio Rules of Prof.Conduct, an attorney must not state or implythat they are a specialist, certified orspecialized in a particular field of law, unless:◦ The lawyer or law firm has been certified as aspecialist by an approved organization; and◦ And the communication clearly identifies the nameof the certifying organization.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 23
  24. 24.  On the Summary section of your LinkedInProfile:◦ Specialties section removed in new profile design –replaced with Skills & Experience◦ However, Specialties remain on profiles of thoseusers who actually populated the section before theconversion to the new design.◦ Include a Disclaimer in sections of SM sites. LinkedIn: Summary Page and Company Page “The designated specialties listed are practice areas”LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 24
  25. 25. SM presents new ways to accidently reveal clientinformation. Must ensure that information relating to aclient does not advertently get disclosed:◦ Responsible for other people who work with you;◦ Staff using SM should be made aware of limits ofconfidentiality when using SM. Duty to Inform and means of communication◦ Not SM related but worth a mention. Email communciationsLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 25
  26. 26.  Posting about ongoing client matters inUpdates, Tweets or within Groups is best ifavoided (even if not mentioning client name); Posting about “live” cases and matters =hottest area in legal ethics; In Facebook and Twitter – a potential ethicslandmine is the option to provide geographicalcoordinates about the places you are postingfrom.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 26
  27. 27.  Via SM sites: Responding to questions withprospective clients◦ Provide only general responses;◦ Encourage prospective client to call you;◦ Have a disclaimer (LinkedIn example) Connecting to current clients◦ Consider confidentiality issues when requesting oraccepting client invitations;◦ Would anyone looking at your connections knowthe person was a client vs. afriend, neighbor, colleague.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 27
  28. 28. Even if a client never executes an engagementletter, an attorney-client relationship may beimplied. Answering questions: be sure you are notoffering legal advice.◦ Have a disclaimer process set-up ABA Formal Opinion 10-457 on Rule 1.18(attached) has several case studies regardinganswering questions posted on the Internet. Rule 1.18 discusses your duty once you havelearned information from a prospective client.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 28
  29. 29.  Use of disclaimers to inform person visitingsite:◦ “… the existence of an attorney-client relationshipis not established via this communication, do notsend confidential information, please contact medirectly at … to further discuss…” Or send them toyour website where a more formal disclaimer exists. SM is fast and casual – expectations of theinquirer are unknown.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 29
  30. 30. Answering questions and participating on socialsites means your message is sent to thoseoutside your jurisdiction. Identify your state of jurisdiction in your profile. Representing someone who has contacted youvia SM channels, determine the client’sgeographic location or where claim is located. Blog articles:◦ Include date posted, applies to jurisdictionLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 30
  31. 31. Best Approach:o Stay educated on new technology;o Engage responsibly;o Consider a social media policy for your firm;o If you are going to have SM sites anddirectories, review 2 or 3 times/yr;o If it’s on the web, you are responsible.LegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 31
  32. 32. Content from the following books was also used:“Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers” by Jared Correia“LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers” by DennisKennedy and Allison C. Shields“Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier” byNicole Black and Carolyn ElefantLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 32
  33. 33. Peggy 315-5750@PeggyGruenkeLegalBizSuccess - June 17, 2013 33