May 2012 Bar Bulletin
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May 2012 Bar Bulletin

Clear Social Media Policies Protect Law Firms

By Chris Pothering


The use of social media for business development purposes is here to stay. Lawyers can't ignore it - unless they want to fall hopelessly behind.

Some lawyers have embraced social media and are interfacing with their colleagues, clients, potential clients and referral sources in a wide range of different online forums. Other lawyers are curious but hesitant to bring social media into their daily practices. Whether out front, far behind or somewhere in between, your law firm needs a social media policy.

In order to intelligently develop a social medial policy, think carefully about the personality of your firm and let that guide your approach. Does your firm empower all lawyers to act on behalf of the firm without committee approval? Are associates allowed to interact freely with clients, and free to send them emails without first checking with a partner? If so, your firm probably will want a loose policy.

At the other extreme, does your firm require that all firm communications be approved by your marketing committee, your publications committee or your management committee? Are associates required to work closely in tandem with partners when working with clients? That type of firm will likely have a much stricter type of policy.

Constant Evolution Must Be Taken into Account

Social media are constantly changing and developing. Instead of engaging in a long and drawn out process of drafting a social media policy, it may be a good idea to adopt a set of flexible guidelines that can be updated quickly, thus keeping up with the changing pace of social media.

If your firm is more conservative and inclined to want multiple committee approvals for the policy and any changes going forward, you might need to rethink and rework your approach. Social media turn on a dime. A committee-bound policy will always be behind the times.

Jaffe PR has created a time-saving social media policy template designed specifically for law firms.1 It consistently revises the template to account for changes in the online environment. The Jaffe template covers the important issues that all firms need to address in a social media policy.

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