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'Eat This, Not That' of Social Media Ethics for Law Firms

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

When it comes to avoiding ethical issues, isn't it just a Ten Commandments of Thou-Shalt-Not's?

"Don't lie." "Don't cheat." "Don't steal." But how boring is that? Plus it's like a million years old!

So let's break the mold and have a little fun with it. After all, what could be more fun than taking some risks with social media lawyer ethics?

Here's a twist on a list from Eat This, Not That, tailor-made for the modern world of social media. We're going to skip a lot because, like ethics violations, there are just so many:

1. Twitter and Chicken Nuggets

Like a chicken nugget, there is very little to a tweet. You get 140 characters to say something, and where is the lawyer who can say anything in less than 10 pages?

Of course, it seems like everybody eats nuggets and tweets. So when tweeting or otherwise posting on social media, the point is not to say too much. Don't advertise. Don't give legal advice. Don't reveal client information.

2. Facebook and Fruit Juice

Facebook is so sweet, keeping family and friends connected -- sometimes long after they are dead. No kidding, there are plenty of Facebook memorials out there. How else do you think the site could have more users than people living in the free world?

Anyway, Facebook statements can live virtually forever. These posts do not disappear in an Instagram instant or a Snapchat snap.

So be very careful about sharing information on a website that will likely outlive you. Opposing counsel, adverse parties, investigators and others may know more about you than your "friends."

Even your real friends may unwittingly share information that can create conflicts for you. Oh, and don't "friend" judges. Conflict, hello!

3. Energy Boosts and LinkedIn

In the realm of professional social media, LinkedIn is an established site to boost a lawyer's business. It connects businesses, which can lead to new business -- an energy shot that even Red Bull can't give you.

But like caffeine itself, social media can let you down hard -- especially then they get hit. LinkedIn, Yahoo and other holders of massive amounts of information, are continuously targeted by hackers.

If you have social media accounts with sensitive information, such as passwords, cyber pirates will look for them. They may sell them to others, who look for money in various ways -- like sending malware to hold law firms and their clients' information hostage.

So curb your appetite for those sugary, fast-food, hyper drives for success in social media. Eat instead the fruits and vegetables of best business practices -- an ethical diet like this one from the American Bar Association.

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