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Social Media for Attorneys: Friending or Foeing?

( 3 votes, average: 2.8 out of 5)
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According to a recent article in the Dayton Business Journal, ''Lawyers seeing potential in social media'' founder of Dayton based Burton Law LLC Chad Burton has actually included the use of social media in his firm's policies.

Burton was quoted as saying: ''This can get you to know people on a more personal level. These are people that you have a better chance of having a good relationship with if you're seeing what each other's kids are doing.''

Scott Jones, partner with Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP in the firm's West Chester office, was quoted as saying about Twitter: ''Before, (Twitter) was used so people could find out what bar in Vegas Kim Kardashian was at. Now people have realized that it can be an effective way to show knowledge to people.''

Jones links relevant articles he's read online with Twitter, and tweets about every other day to his two dozen followers, a blend of colleagues, clients, business owners and journalists.

Another example of an attorney embracing social media is Jack Greiner, a partner with Graydon Head in Cincinnati. For nearly two years, he's blogged on his firm's website about cases and articles that relate to his areas of practice, including media and intellectual property. According to the article, his blog gets around 300 hits a day.

But there are obvious drawbacks. A lawyer's business is based on confidentiality and discretion. Posting inappropriate pictures or commentary is unprofessional and unacceptable.

For example, Jeff Cox of Dayton-based Faruki Ireland & Cox PLL, who's written professionally about using social media and avoiding ethical dilemmas, was quoted as saying: ''If someone goes home at the end of the day and posts a status update (that) a client tanked in his deposition, that kind of a posting is entirely inappropriate.''

Also, per Cox, ''rules that prohibit law firms from advertising themselves as specialists in certain types of law also apply to lawyers' blog posts and even LinkedIn profile pages.''

The thing to remember about social media is the very fact that it's instantaneous makes it a double edged sword. Once it's out there, it's out there. And everyone has the handheld devices to prove it.

Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP.

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