Top 10 Social Media Planning Mistakes Made By Law Firms

By District of Columbia Bar

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By Linda Priebe

Social media use by law firms for marketing, investigation, and hiring is exploding and can openthe door to ethics and legal claims if a law firm does not manage its social media outreach in compliance with bar association guidelines and federal regulations. Does your law firm make any of the following mistakes?

1. No Social Media Policy – many law firms don’t have any social media policies at all.

2. No Social Media policies governing employee official, professional and personal use of social media.

3. Not updating your law firm Social Media policies to stay current with the flood of new social media guidelines, decisions and regulations being issued by bar associations and federal agencies including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); the Federal Trade Commission; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

4. No Social Media Terms of Public Participation notifying the public of conduct permitted on your law firm’s Social Media sites.   

5. No Social Media Take Down Policy for objectionable public comments/activity on your law firm Social Media sites such as illegal endorsements; hate speech; cyber threats/harassment; obscenity; political activity; privacy invasions and/or violation of intellectual property laws. 

6. Not consistently reviewing public comments/activity on your law firm Social Media sites and taking appropriate action.

7. No written provision that your law firm owns all of its Social Media sites and followers/contacts.

8. Failure to designate your law firm Social Media Administrator  + 1 with password access to all your law firm’s Social Media sites. 

9. No written requirement signed by your Social Media Administrator that they will relinquish access to all your law firm’s Social Media sites upon departure. 

10. No policy or guidelines preventing NLRB or EEOC violations by your law firm Human Resources Department when using Social Media in hiring, recruiting, and/or employee discipline.

Linda Priebe is Chair of Ethics and Compliance at Culhane Meadows PLLC in Washington DC. She is a frequent speaker on the ethics of social media for lawyers and social media legal compliance for business. She is also former Deputy General Counsel and Ethics Official at the White House Office of Drug Policy during three Administrations. There she was legal counsel for social and digital media compliance and ethics. In 2014 she was named a Super Lawyer in Washington DC by Thompson Reuters.

Ms. Priebe will present "Social Media Ethics 4 Attorneys: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda?" May 15 for Practice 360º| A Day for Lawyers and Law Firms.