Social Media for Attorneys: Check Your Bar Rules for Advertising

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Attorneys: you’ve probably seen or heard of plenty of cases where social media evidence was used to resolve a legal battle. Social media impacts nearly every aspect of the legal industry – from evidence to advertising – and many attorneys work with it on a daily basis.

Whether you’ve been a devoted Facebook poster for years or you’re just hopping into the Twitter scene, ensure you’re using social media to promote your law firm in an ethical manner.

Check Your Bar Rules – They May Specifically Regulate Social Media

As an attorney, you know that ethics are a big part of how you promote and represent your law firm. When your local bar develops its rules and guidelines for ethical law firm promotion and advertising, it typically includes electronic communication as a part of its guidelines.

Some states, such as Florida, have a separate rule specifically for social media conduct. One of the big limitations for law firms in the Sunshine State is the requirement that every tweet must include the attorney’s name and city. With only 140 characters to work with, be happy if you have a short name.

To give the Florida Bar credit, at least it allows abbreviations of the city such as FTL for Fort Lauderdale and JAX for Jacksonville.

Don’t Get Too Casual With Your Social Pages

Even though we often stress the “social” aspect of social media, as an attorney it’s important to remain professional as well. Many of the bar rules for lawyer advertising revolve around being truthful and avoiding misleading or coercive material.

With social media, attorneys may be quick to post a client testimonial from their page to other social networks or include it in their newsletter. Just like any other form of attorney-client conduct, you must first obtain permission to include their comments in any communication your law firm sends.

Social sharing is almost too easy, which is why you need to definitely stop and think before you retweet or share. If it’s something a client said directly to your Twitter handle or Facebook page, you need to ask their permission to re-use it.

When in Doubt, Ask Your Local Bar

Any time your bar rules change for advertising or attorney conduct, perform a review of social media use among attorneys in your firm. It’s also a good idea to contact your state bar any time a new social feature comes about and you’re interested in using it to market your law firm.

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