Wednesday, July 27, 2011

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Law

How Is Social Media Affecting Law Practice?

Today, we have so many options for improving the practice of law.  By being open to these options, lawyers can find their jobs to be just a tad easier.  From web search engines for case law and statute, to electronic docketing, law practice is moving into the 21st century.  But, are these new features all good or all bad?  Neither.

Making the Job Smoother
Like we learn in law school, sometimes the best answer is a simple "maybe" or "depends".  The same is true here.  On the positive side, social media allows for the easiest connecting we've ever seen.  We can find old clients, make new ones, stay connected to law school buddies, and promote our businesses.....within legal limits, of course.  Social media and technological advancements are also helping to make law practice more efficient.  Electronic storage programs are helpful for the lawyer on-the-go, and having easy access to data and files is always appreciated.

Lots of Compromise
On the down side, social media and technology perks leave opportunity for integrity to be compromised.  This is the same for many industries-- not just law.  Privacy can often be compromised.  Not having top security over documents and client information can make for bad relationships and outcomes.  Business branding will suffer here as well.  Soliciting customers can get dicey, and sometimes the line between professional and personal can be blurred.  As we learned in Professional Responsibility, monitoring your marketing is essential.  We must all be sure not to compromise our own integrity, nor the integrity of the profession.  

Some Tips:
In order to make sure you are taking advantage, but not abusing social media in your law practice, we have some tips to share:
1. Err on the Side of Caution
If you aren't sure, hold off, wait, ask a tech savvy person.  Do whatever you must to protect yourself and your legal brand.

2. Socialize Securely
Always check for the padlock on the screens you use and upload onto with electronic file storage mediums.  This feature ensures you are working in a safe area.  Check for the "s" after "http" on sites, too.

3. Communicate with Clients
Clients' information is what keeps your practice alive.  They have to know what's going on at all times, and it's your duty to tell them.  Giving them information on how their information is protected is important in a positive attorney-client relationship.  It is beyond necessary to make them as comfortable as possible.

4. Be Adventurous
Although protecting information to the highest degree is most important, trying new technology and social media outlets is more necessary than we sometimes realize.  The days of books and paper are slowly moving into our rear-view mirrors.  Attorneys, like professionals in other businesses are almost nothing without some sort of presence on the web.  If you haven't gotten your feet wet in promoting yourself through social media, or trying out web-based products for research, ask someone who has, and enjoy the adventure.  It'll change your life!

We hope these tips are helpful to you, and if you have any others to share, let us know!!

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