Antony McFadyen, a Scottish solicitor and the secretary to our Technology Law and Practice Committee, introduces the committee's updated social media guidance and shares some golden rules of thumb.

Social media offers unique and valuable opportunities for lawyers to participate in interactive communications, develop their network and share news, both as a private professional, and on behalf of your firm in a more formal social media capacity. The Technology Law and Practice Committee has developed a refreshed set of tips and tricks in both of these areas to help you gain the most out of social media opportunities, while at the same time helping keep you cyber-secure, navigating the safer online path, and avoiding the hidden social media platform pitfalls.

As an introduction, here are some golden rules of thumb to avoid potentially serious issues, embrace a clear online strategy, and benefit from social media as a legal professional.

Avoid
  • posting remarks which might reasonably be construed as unprofessional, unwise, offensive, abusive, defamatory, or undermine trust and personal integrity (including posting them (or anything else) anonymously)
  • engaging in unprofessional arguments with others in the online arena (including engaging with or encouraging online trolls), and shut them down quickly where they arise
  • revealing confidential professional information, or making comments regarding your clients’ affairs (unless directed and/or permitted specifically to do so)
    comments that could be interpreted as racist or discriminatory in any way (including ethnic, racial, sexist, and religious remarks, even in jest)
  • reflecting a strong controversial political position or stance that may alienate clients
  • posting comments or photos after a few drinks in the bar, even when with colleagues
  • showing clients you are awake and online at 4am (unless you are abroad) – they will wonder whether you will be at the top of your game in working hours!
Embrace
  • your professional responsibilities, which still apply regardless of the type of communication or device you send it from:
    • think first before posting or commenting on anything
    • be professional, open, honest and respectful
    • talk about what you know
  • remembering social media posts and comments can exist for a long time which can be accessed by potential employers, clients, and in other investigations
  • fact checking before sharing or re-posting: don’t spread fake news
Benefit
  • from engaging with and expanding your network including clients, colleagues and peers
  • by sharing your professional achievements, firm updates, legal publications and charity work
  • from enhancing you and your firm’s image, profile and reputation
  • through access to CPD training and other online opportunities advertised on social media including podcasts, videocasts and webinars
  • from smart, professional, and regular engagement with social media to the advantage of your professional profile, personally and as part of your wider firm

You can read the full and updated Advice and Information for the Legal Profession on our website and if social media is a step into the unknown for you, you might find our 10 top tips to help you get started helpful.

Social Media – Advice and Information for the Legal Profession

1. Introduction Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are an integral part of the way people communicate....