Practice Tip: Social Media and Your Client
Posted on December 20th, 2010
I just remembered I’ve got a law degree and experience! I might as well share some of it, instead of being morose about M’s job or angsty about P’s development all the time. I can’t really post about writing, other than “good day” or “bad day.” What was I thinking?
So, everyone, I’d like you to meet the attorney in “Attorney At Large.”
I keep seeing articles about social media and your client. It’s good to think about this, but I don’t usually see it broken down or explained the way I think it ought to be.
Practice tip number one: don’t friend an opposing party on Facebook. It kills me that some lawyer thought that was a good idea. If it’s out there for the taking and you print it out (or print screen) and use it? Great! But don’t pretend to be someone else to get the dirt on the opposing party.
However, here’s the thing about your client and social media (Facebook, MySpace, iChat, Twitter, or what have you): you have to know it all beforehand.
Practice tip number two: Get it all and read it before you file the case. Yes, read it all. I don’t care if it’s a car accident case. Read it anyway. Look at phone records, too.
But that’s a lot of work before filing the case, you say. I promise you that if you don’t do this, then at some point when your client is being deposed, opposing counsel will produce an exhibit that is something your client said or did online that will make your case explode and you will rue the day you ever saw the client. And your boss will say something like, “Why didn’t we know about this?” And it will suck mightily.
But the statute of limitations runs tomorrow! The courthouse closes in twenty minutes! Then for the love of God, don’t take that case. Really. You don’t want it.
Extra bonus practice tip: Don’t post about your cases on Facebook or Twitter (unless it’s part of your master strategy). Because if you’re like every other young lawyer I know, you are friends with people from law school. And some of them know other people who are lawyers for the other side, and that is just malpractice waiting to happen.
Extra bonus practice tip 2: If you are an old lawyer who does not understand social media, hire a young associate who does.