Attorneys know that they have to be careful about what they put online, and they usually use social media sparingly, if at all. I’ve noticed that attorneys limit their social media activity to LinkedIn because they think it’s the safest. However, everyone has to be careful, no matter how professional a website might seem.
One attorney paid a heavy price for his online activity, which was deserved, but it also affected a couple of women’s reputation. According to Martha Neil’s article,“Sending female intern’s horror-film clip to local law firms get sex-partner suspended for 3 years”
in the ABA Journal
, a partner of a law firm wanted to punish an intern that didn’t respond to his advances, so he had a paralegal send out a clip from a horror film that showed the intern nude. Actually, it wasn’t really her, but he said it was.
Even though her name isn’t in the article, it was a total embarrassment for her because many attorneys saw the clip. Plus, the paralegal looked bad because she was the one who sent out the email to other law firms. Luckily, the partner ended up getting suspended, but he created a mess that will probably take a while to clean up.
It’s a great lesson for attorneys to be careful about what they post or send out online, even if they think it’s a practical joke. It’s safe to say that if you have any doubts about posting a photo, quote, or link, don’t post it at all. Like our mothers often told us, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Attorneys have to be careful in court, but in the court of public opinion, they have to be especially careful, because they are held to high standards in communications.
Posting online is like speaking: people are usually advised to think before they speak in case they say something they regret. When you’re online, it’s even more important to think before you post because whatever you put out there will last a very long time.