Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are Attorneys Afraid Of Using Social Media?

One of the easiest ways to find an attorney in today’s times is via social media. The legal business just like any other business today is learning the ropes of what it means to be part of the social media network and benefit from it. Whether it’s a Kansas City attorney or a law firm in New York, they’ve been forced to explore social media and what it can do for their business.

There is another side to this story though. While it has its advantages social media is a very open platform. Things go viral and quite honestly, once something has been uploaded on the web via a social media channel, there is little control over where it might land eventually or who might see it.

For most other professions this does not pose as a big risk. But that is not the case with the legal industry. Because of the sensitive nature of their field and the kind of work they do, lawyers have to be careful about what they post on the web, especially when they use social media as a personal space.

So the question is- Are attorneys afraid of using social media? Yes, possibly so. There are a number of reasons why an attorney might be afraid that social media can land them into trouble. The legal profession has always been categorized as a serious profession. When anyone is out in the market to find an attorney, they have a certain image in mind.

In such a case, anything that a lawyer has written on their social platforms can be used as a medium to judge them professionally. Sometimes an innocent remark or update written just for fun can cast a shadow on the reputation of the attorney and cost them a case.

Another factor to consider is the confidentiality status quo that lawyers have to maintain at all times. Under this, in no circumstance can a lawyer reveal any information knowingly or unknowingly about a client. When it comes to social media, an attorney can never be sure when something they might have posted can be linked to breach of confidentiality.

This is especially true in the case of blogging. Presumably, the posts might be related to cases or experiences on cases and this will warrant divulging some facts.  There is also the possibility that a lawyer might end up discussing legal issues on a social media platform with someone who is against a current client of theirs. This can be seen as a conflict of interest.

Another risk for an attorney to openly talk about law on social media is the fact that it can unintentionally lead to unauthorized practice. For e.g.: a Kansas City attorney might end up giving advice to someone in Florida but he is not licensed to practice in Florida, this might be considered a violation.

While the risk of using social media are many for attorneys, it is very hard to ignore the fact that social media is here to stay. The key eventually is in using the platform responsibly and with extreme caution and awareness.