Social media has become a major tool for those in the legal profession to find pieces of information. Consequently, it has also provided professionals an avenue to broaden their networks. But the situation is not without problems. Many paralegals, legal assistants, and even lawyers have had missteps with using the Internet – especially when it comes to social media.
A Look at Social Media
All social networking platforms have one similarity: user-generated content. Each one of these websites depends on what the users post online. One post, tweet, or status update has the potential to reach millions of users at the same time.
Given this nature, it is very easy for a person to share information that is supposed to be confidential. This is where many paralegals (and lawyers) make a mistake. Inappropriate electronic communications can seriously affect the career of an up-and-coming paralegal.
Paralegals have to preserve the confidence of clients, and this applies to social media use. In emails alone, courts expect a level of privacy from everyone in the field. As such, the expectations are the same when it comes to social networking sites – which are, by nature, public and quasi-public forms of communication.
If a paralegal fails to honor this, it is a possible violation of client confidentiality and privilege. In most cases, revealing sensitive work-related information can result in the termination of a contract. Ethics charges and criminal penalties are possible repercussions as well.
A Matter of Ethics
Ergo, the best practice is to always take ethics into consideration before posting anything on social media. This is something paralegals have to live by, simply because of the profession’s nature. Prior to the use of any electronic communication, it is important to clarify that all information to be shared online is appropriate and ethical. When in doubt, it is best to refrain from posting the said information.
It is important to have a good grasp of the ethical standards of the legal profession from the start. This is something we discuss in every course here at The Center for Legal Studies. Contact us today to learn about the programs we offer.