Lawyers are under some pressure to use social media to market their law firms and stay connected to clients. Although a social medium can be a cost-effective way to reach a large audience, you risk losing control of your message, creating unrealistic client expectations, inadvertently creating an attorney-client relationship, and running afoul of the rules of professional conduct.
The question is: How can you operate effectively and appropriately in a Web-based environment without leaving yourself vulnerable to a malpractice claim or a complaint to the Office of Lawyer Regulation?
Recently, I spoke about this topic at the State Bar Young Lawyers Division Leadership Conference. The conference included a panel discussion among lawyers who are active with blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Panelist Marc Adesso, with Devos & Zerbst, Madison, says it is important for lawyers to become familiar with and understand social media. "Even if attorneys do not use it themselves, their competition and clients will be using it."
What are the benefits of blogging or having a Facebook presence? Staying relevant and connected, for starters. Adesso says, "Social media is generally free to use and it provides attorneys a means to attract clients without spending precious marketing dollars. It provides an opportunity to demonstrate to tech-savvy clients that an attorney has competency in their area of expertise and commerce. I also like social media because it gives attorneys a means to directly tailor their online presence and message as they see fit. An excellent example of this would be the creation of a blog about a specific practice area. A free blog on Wordpress.com can be made to look as well-made as a professionally coded website, but can be filled with content written exclusively by an attorney."
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By: Thomas J. Watson