On 20 December 2011 the Law Society published a 14 page practice note on social media. You can see it here: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/productsandservices/practicenotes/socialmedia/5049.article
It provides a rather brief answer to the question “What are social media?”, a summary of the pros and cons, focuses on the professional and ethical issues for lawyers and stresses the need to have a social media policy. It rightly explores the blurring of personal and professional life (but with only a minor nod to branding issues) and reminds readers of the relevant SRA Code of Conduct issues particularly acting with integrity, independence, confidentiality, publicity, disclosure, reputation, defamation, relations with third parties and trust.
I like that it picks up that you may unintentionally disclose that you are working with a client simply by connecting with them or mentioning your location. It suggests using a personal email to ensure that your contacts are seen as your own rather than your firms. And it explains the issues around the deletion of accounts – but doesn’t go as far as suggesting what you might do in a difficult situation, where you have made an error or any of the social media etiquette.
It seemed a rather too general, out of date (no mention of recent cases) and lacking in really practical advice for my taste. It fails to explain that social media isn’t appropriate for all markets/clients and really needs to be used as an integrated part of your other marketing, selling and client relationship management processes although it does suggest that you consider your aims when establishing a social media channel. I also wondered whether those who were really unfamiliar with social media would understand the urgings to check privacy settings. But I suppose that it’s a step in the right direction.
The White Paper which I produced with econsultancy in December 2010 provides more “meat on the bones” of some of the issues explored in the practice note: the use of social media in relationship development in the professions
And if you would like a little more help on the topic of social media, the following blogs may be of interest although the blog tag cloud will lead you to many others: