Social media or social networking policy
At Jaffe, we have made our best effort to outline a comprehensive set of online policies and procedures for law firms and lawyers striving to use social media effectively and responsibly. This is our seventh update to our law firm social media policy since its original release in late 2008, and we will continue to revise it as new information becomes available. Please feel free to use and change this template as you wish, and to pass it along to others who may find it useful.
We strongly suggest that you give consideration to your law firm’s standards and culture in customizing these Social Media Policies and Procedures to include your law firm’s principles on confidentiality, public reputation management, and marketing and communications. Keep in mind that the presence of a policy is not the same as enforcement, and we strongly suggest you develop procedures to ensure adherence to your firm’s policy.
There are several other important tactics for law firms engaging in social media to consider.
- Learn state ethics rules: Certain states are more stringent with their ethics rules than others and consider social media posts to be subject to the same guidelines as advertising. At this time, the American Bar Association has not published guidelines on social media use, so, for now, it is important to follow the state bar rules in which your firm operates.
- Educate: Whether administrative staff or senior partners, all members of the firm should undergo a series of social media trainings that deliver a comprehensive review of your law firm’s social media policy and a discussion about how one’s digital footprint can affect the firm’s reputation.
- Monitor: In today’s online environment, knowing when your firm and attorneys garner social media mentions is crucial. By monitoring social networks, you can respond timely and appropriately to discussions involving your firm.
- Respond strategically: A lapse of online etiquette by a partner or staff member can easily happen. Having a strategy to mitigate the damage an errant post renders makes good PR sense. A law firm crisis communication plan should include a social media section with a strategy for overcoming such transgressions.
- Enforce consequences: A social media policy without any teeth is an inadequate policy. Firms must determine how to handle violations that fall outside of what is considered protected activities under the National Labor Relations Act. Explain the potential consequences in the social media policy, and deliver frequent reminders so enforcement is expected and understood by all.
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