December 29, 2015 Practice Points

Tips for Using Social Media Wisely

Two recent cases remind us how important it is to be careful when posting to social-media accounts.

By Dave Scriven-Young

Young advocates know the importance of using social media to keep up with friends, colleagues, and clients, and many use social media to develop new contacts to develop possible new business. However, two recent cases remind us how important it is to be careful when posting to social-media accounts.

In the first case, a partner at a large law firm was sanctioned for tweeting photos of evidence while observing a federal trial. He was ordered to donate $5,000 to the Chicago Bar Foundation, attend a continuing legal education program on ethics in social media, and donate at least 50 hours of pro bono work. In the second case, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated federal propaganda and anti-lobbying laws when the EPA used its social-media accounts to promote and lobby in favor a proposed clean-water statute.

The import of these cases is clear: Social media is not a tool where “anything goes.” When preparing content, make sure it is appropriate for global consumption and consistent with the norms and laws of your jurisdiction. Although mistakes are made even by social media experts (see Gary Vaynerchuk’s video show being shut down by security at Rockefeller Center), remember to think before you post.


Dave Scriven-Young is with Peckar & Abramson, P.C. in Chicago, Illinois.


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