You may be among the thousands of legal professionals flocking to social media sites to expand your professional presence in the emerging digital frontier. If so, have you paused to consider how the ethics rules apply to your online activities? You should. This article provides ten tips for avoiding ethical lapses while using social media as a legal professional.
1. Know that social media profiles and posts may constitute legal advertising. In many jurisdictions, lawyer and law firm websites are deemed to be advertisements. Because social media profiles (e.g., blogs, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn profiles) are by their nature websites, they, too, may constitute advertisements.
2. Avoid making false or misleading statements. The ethical prohibition against making false or misleading statements pervades many of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct (RPCs), as well as the analogous state ethics rules. ABA Formal Opinion 10-457 concludes that lawyer websites must comply with the RPCs that prohibit false or misleading statements. The same obligation extends to social media websites.