Reports

Social Media Guidelines

The D.C. Bar HQ includes social media in its overall communications strategy to promote awareness about and utilization of its programs, to facilitate member–to–member engagement, and to provide an opportunity for the organization to listen to the trends and concerns raised by the membership, lawyers generally, parties with special interests and concerns about the administration of justice and the practice of law, and members of the general public.

Individuals responsible for managing the Bar’s social media sites, including HQ staff and volunteers, are expected to represent the organization and the legal profession well and to exercise good judgment at all times, as are individuals who engage in any way on those sites. These guidelines do not extend to personal use of personal social media in a way that is not identified with the D.C. Bar. At a minimum, these individuals are expected to:

  • Be responsible. Individuals are personally responsible for material they post. Carefully consider content; what you publish will be widely accessible for some time and, in some cases, indefinitely. All statements must be true and not misleading. Do not post information about yourself or others that might reasonably be expected to be private in nature. Keep posts relevant to the organization’s mission and goals.

  • Be known. Use your real name and, if relevant, your role or interest in the topic being discussed. When appropriate, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on the organization’s behalf.

  • Be civil and respectful. While it is acceptable to disagree with others, comments should not include defamatory, libelous, or damaging innuendo. The use of abusive, threatening, offensive, obscene, explicit, or racist language is prohibited, as is the posting of illegal material.

  • Be accurate. If you make a mistake, admit it, quickly provide the correct information, and, if appropriate, modify an earlier post to make it clear that you have corrected an error.

  • Be relevant and add value to the conversation. Write about what you know; information adds value to a conversation if it contributes to the legal community’s knowledge or skills, improves the legal system or the public’s understanding of the legal system, or builds a sense of community.

  • Follow copyright and fair use laws. Always give proper credit for work done by others. Be sure you have the right to use material with attribution before publishing. It is preferable to link to others’ work rather than reproducing it. Do not use any material that may be proprietary in nature. Recognize the potential professional and legal consequences of any failure to follow applicable laws governing the use of others’ materials.

  • Protect proprietary and client information. Do not discuss or misuse proprietary or confidential information and follow all professional and ethical rules governing the disclosure of information shared with you by clients. When in doubt, leave it out.

  • Refrain from political activities. Political activities including but not limited to endorsements or advocacy are not appropriate on the D.C. Bar’s social media platforms unless they reflect an official position of the organization.

  • Comply with the D.C. Bar Rules governing lawyer conduct. When posting content to any social media site, be certain to comply with all requirements of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct.

  • Comply with all antitrust laws. While a lawyer should be cognizant of certain charges for legal services in the marketplace,[1] antitrust laws prohibit postings that encourage or facilitate agreements between members related to the provision of legal services concerning the following: prices, discounts, terms or conditions of sale, salaries, profits, profit margins, cost data, market shares, sales territories or markets, allocation of customers or supplies, or any other term or condition related to competition. A lawyer’s compliance with Rule 1.5(a)(3) should, therefore, occur in a forum other than Bar–oriented social media.

  • Abide by all social networks’ terms of use. By joining a particular social network, members agree to abide by that network’s terms of use. Review those terms carefully before agreeing to participate.

  • Refrain from pure marketing. While it is the intent of the D.C. Bar to use its own social media sites to promote its programs and services generally, marketing or advertising by other individuals, entities, or organizations is inconsistent with social media’s primary purposes of generating dialogue and information exchange. Do not solicit the use of online testimonials that refer to the D.C. Bar or its services, unless there is specific approval from a responsible D.C. Bar official. In the rare circumstance where testimonials are used, never sponsor testimonials unless the testimonial is transparent about the sponsor’s relationship with the commenter. If someone is receiving any form of compensation or inducement from the D.C. Bar in connection with their statements, the existence of such a relationship must be disclosed.

The D.C. Bar will actively monitor all of its social media sites and take appropriate action to enforce these guidelines.

The D.C. Bar reserves the right to modify, change or revoke this policy at any time.

[1] Rule 1.5(a)(3) of the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct.