TERIS/USA When it comes to social media attorneys have to be smart about what they post… not to mention where and how. Although even the average citizen can end up regretting an embarrassing photo or off-the-cuff remark years down the road, the consequences can be far more serious for those in the legal profession. Here’s a closer look at four of the seven most costly mistakes attorneys make on LinkedIn, and some tips for better behavior.
1. An Unfinished Profile
In the world of social media, a half-finished profile might actually be worse than having no profile at all. Take the time to add a photo, updated work history and special skills or talents to round out what’s essentially the modern day (virtual) calling card.
2. Not Being Professional Enough
The quirky hashtags that litter Twitter and the candid selfies that populate Facebook have no place on LinkedIn, which is geared toward professional networking. LinkedIn is really thought of as the social network for grown-ups, and needs to be treated as such. Take plenty of time to craft an appropriate profile page, and keep the shenanigans away from your professional life.
3. Overselling Services
LinkedIn falls under the scope of Model Rule of Professional Conduct 4.1 (prohibiting lawyers from knowingly making false statements of a material fact or law in the course of representing clients) as well as Model Rule 7.1 (not making false or misleading statements about the lawyer or his or her services). That means no exaggerating about clients, experience or results anywhere on LinkedIn or other social media attorneys could use.
4. Sharing Privileged Information
Obviously, those in the legal profession should never purposefully share data that could potentially violate attorney-client privilege, but some social media functionality like tagging or location services could inadvertently give something away. Take extra precaution when sharing any information over LinkedIn, or anywhere else online.
5. Accidentally Gaining Clients
LinkedIn and other social media sites make it all too easy to dispense casual legal advice. While sharing expertise is good and can speak to qualifications, the line between generally educating an audience and inadvertently gaining a client can be too thin for comfort. Always include a disclaimer if offering any pearls of wisdom that could even remotely be considered legal advice.
6. Not Playing Well with Others
Imagine LinkedIn is a giant courtroom, and then follow the same rules of professionalism online that would be assumed in the real world. Openly arguing against a judge’s ruling, bashing current or former clients or insulting colleagues can all be huge career mistakes if word gets back to the targets (and word always gets back to the targets). LinkedIn is not the place for venting; it’s the place to look professional and polished.
7. Not Participating at All
It’s worth mentioning again: LinkedIn is considered the primary online networking tool for serious professionals. When it comes to social media attorneys should absolutely take a closer look at all that LinkedIn has to offer, even if they’re otherwise reluctant to participate in other online platforms. From networking within a similar group to sharing professional knowledge, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool that every attorney can use to his or her advantage.
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