Social media – it’s for lawyers too!

Written by Puneet Tiwari, Co-Founder of Evichat

I feel like it wasn’t even that long ago when I created my first Facebook account! All my friends were signing up and I was barraged with invites. Fast forward 10 years later. I received a friend request from my Grandfather.

 

Social media is a real thing and it’s here to stay. Literally billions of users head to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites daily. What was once considered a fad for young people has turned into a massive social and economic FORCE! The legal industry has also been heavily affected by social media, but most lawyers haven’t paid attention.

There are three main considerations a lawyer should have about social media: (1) promoting their digital brand; (2) dangers of ignoring it; and (3) collecting evidence/investigations (ethically, of course).

Digital Brand

How do people find lawyers? People still ask their friends or family, but often a google search is the more common first step. Lawyers who utilize social media effectively as a branding tool come up first in google search. Clients don’t like to scroll past the first two pages of a google search result, so the higher you rank, the more likely the client will call your firm.

This doesn’t just mean setting up a Facebook or LinkedIn page, but actually producing new content and engaging online. Writing a relevant blog or talking about your law firm’s updates are a good place to start.

 

Dangers of Ignoring Social Media

Lawyers can no longer afford to ignore social media. Not only is it a great tool for branding, but it’s also a great investigative tool. A quick google search can reveal troves of information on your current file, whether it’s information on a potential plaintiff or defendant, or even opposing counsel. Often, what a client posts online could affect their claim. Many jurisdictions have added a professional duty for lawyers to be technologically competent – this could include collecting evidence from social media.

 

Social Media Investigations

When investigating a party through social media, it’s important to be aware of your ethical duties. For example, creating a fake Facebook account to befriend an opposing client in order to get at their account data is a big no-no for lawyers.

Another consideration is the authenticity and defensibility of the data. Recently, in R. v Hamdan, 2017 BCSC 676 (CanLII), the Supreme Court of British Columbia reprimanded the RCMP for using unauthenticated data. It’s easy to just take a screenshot of a profile, but when tools that capture and authenticate (with metadata) digital evidence are available, like our company Evichat, it’s dangerous to go alone.

Overall, social media has many implications for lawyers, both for firm branding and evidence collection. Law firms should ensure they have a solid game plan in place to utilize it effectively in their boardrooms and in the courtroom!

 

About The Author

Puneet Tiwari is the Co-Founder of Evichat, a tool for lawyers to help collect social media and mobile based evidence. He can be reached at puneet@evichat.com.