The Law Society has issued guidelines to solicitors and law firm compliance officers over their use of social media. 23/01/2012
The 13-page document outlines the benefits and risks, the importance of individuals and businesses reviewing their social media ‘presence’ and privacy settings, as well as information on setting up social media for business.
Online social networking provides opportunities for the legal profession, both commercially and in terms of professional networking, but also presents challenges to the core duties of solicitors.
If you make 'friends' with clients on Facebook, for example, you should evaluate whether this may affect any of your ethical obligations.
Law Society president John Wotton said adding clients on social media sites even if you have a very good relationship with them, could cross boundaries and breach the solicitor’s code of conduct.
‘There could be several implications in adding a client on some social media sites. Your professional integrity could be questioned if details of your private life is revealed while the client could unwittingly post sensitive information on your page, which would compromise confidentiality or impact ongoing cases.
‘You may think your profile is reasonably innocuous but you cannot always control the information other people share, such as comments or photo tagging.
‘We advise keeping your professional life separate from your personal social networking activities. Anything posted online is accessible in the public domain.’
There are networking sites that are specifically geared towards professional use, such as LinkedIn , Biznik and Focus, which the Law Society views as more appropriate for solicitors to add clients or colleagues as contacts.
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