Integrating Social Media into Law Firms

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There has been a lot of conjecture about people using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter in a legal environment. But, times are changing and the legal industry is gradually making use of these platforms. Still, while social media provides multiple opportunities for lawyers to connect with clients and market their services, there remain concerns relating to ethics and liability.

In a recent issue of the Law Society Journal, the pros and cons of using Twitter in the legal environment was published. How does a law firm know when they are stretching the boundaries of their client’s confidence? Where is the line drawn? What can a law firm do to protect themselves from legal liability? These are just a few questions which are raised within the legal community.

These questions were considered during a recent interview between James Vickery of I Know IT and Wajiha Ahmed, principal of Buttar Caldwell and Co, which took out second place in the 2012 Top 50 Law Firms Awards.

According to Wajiha in the interview, “Us as a society are very much moving from face-to-face interaction to global [social media] interaction and the more quickly the legal community gets on board with their understanding on how people function, the easier it is going to be for them. However, the biggest issue for lawyers is confidentiality. There can still be issues relating to the client saying ‘I didn’t give you permission to talk about it’.”

James asked, “How about employees working for your firm? You’re prudent about what you want and what you say because it’s obviously your business and you need to protect yourself and your interest. Do you think that employees within law firms should be monitored?”

“I think that when you entrust employees with confidential information within a law firm, for example, then that trust should be extended to include social media. I certainly don’t want to spend my entire day reviewing someone else’s work, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, and those sorts of things. I want to trust them enough that they do know the difference between what is appropriate and inappropriate as well as professional manners”, replied Wajiha.

“What of the advantages of social media? Has social media helped to promote your firm?” asked James.

“Absolutely. I’ve had people direct inbox us on Twitter seeking basic legal advice. I’ve also had people Facebook us, and email us from our website. We’ve even had referrals from the law society where people, despite being provided with our information, would still go on to our website or go on our Facebook first just to see who we are before getting in contact with us – even though they were referred to us. And I think that is the way of the world now. That’s how we judge whether or not we want to do business with someone. We want to see that they ‘get it’”, concluded Wajiha.

With the rise of social media being not only a platform for communication, but also a way to establish a reputation and credibility, it will be interesting to watch how the legal community further embraces this technology.

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About the Author: James Vickery is the founder and CEO of I Know IT, a transformative IT services provider. James connects law leaders to their strategy through technology with a firm belief that lawyers must re-enter their profession as innovators, thinking and acting as technology companies do in order to survive, compete and prosper in a digital economy.

James enables this new way of thinking and executing through consulting, coaching and delivery of technology solutions to Australian and international organisations. .

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