Sit in on any CLE on social media these days, and you’ll be privy to the laundry list of ethics issues that crop up when lawyers use social media. But even though lawyers answer to a higher calling, we’re not immune from the rules that govern the masses online. And increasingly, these days, the applicable body of rules includes third-party platform terms of service.
More importantly, social media sites like Facebook or Twitter are becoming more aggressive about enforcing their terms of service. An excellent post at the Info Law Group blog summarizes recent action, including a lawsuit by Twitter against four companies for spamming and auto-generating tweets and setting up duplicate accounts. Though I’ve not yet seen lawyers or legal marketers engaged in this level of spam, it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case.
Legal ethics rules don’t prohibit spam (per se -of course, no direct solicitations permitted), but that isn’t the end of the inquiry. When we lawyers do business on someone else’s turf, i.e., a third party platform, we must likewise familiarize themselves with the rules of that terrain, just as we must learn the local rules for each courtroom where we practice. True, some third party platform rules may seem silly, but trust me, if a law firm violates rules that even a thirteen year old is aware of, it’s the lawyer who will come across silliest of all.