Civil Litigation Legal Topics New Lawyers Practice of Law Social Media

Protect Clients from Themselves

social_138282233A legal matter may be the most important thing happening in your client’s life, but you have to warn your client to avoid conversations about it on social media. Whatever they say online—no matter how innocently intended—can be found and used to undermine their position. Here are three things to tell clients about online communications.

  1. Never discuss legal matters online. Strongly admonish your clients against making online comments or posting on social media about anything related to their legal matter. For many people, online communications are so embedded into their daily routine that they may not think before typing. For others, such communications seem so impersonal that they may not see any worrying connection between their posting and their own legal matter. You need to make that connection clear.
  2. It’s better to opt out of any online communications while a legal matter is pending. Explain to your clients that lawyers and investigators routinely check social media websites for posts, comments, and images that could undermine the client’s case. Because it’s impossible to know what might be used by the opposing party, tell your clients that it’s safest to refrain from all social media activity until their legal matter is concluded. For example, a seemingly innocent photo of your client enjoying a theme park could be used to undermine his disability claim.
  3. Enhance privacy settings. Although you hope your clients won’t discuss potentially detrimental information online, you need to be realistic that they may not heed your warnings. Indeed, jurors have been known to post on social media despite judges’ orders against it. Using the maximum privacy settings on all of social media accounts provides an extra layer of protection.

As you warn your clients about online communications, you should add related tips about email communications, including a warning not to use their employer’s computer to write emails about their legal matter. You’ll find a sample letter to send to your clients about electronic correspondence in CEB’s California Client Communications Manual: Sample Letters and Forms §1.9.

Other CEBblog™ posts you may find interesting:

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