Editor’s note: Texas Lawyer asks Judge Gena Slaughter of the 191st Judicial District Court in Dallas to share her top five tips for jurists and lawyers when using social media.
1. Don’t be stupid. If the discussion or behavior would be improper or unethical if you did it at a restaurant or on the golf course, doing it through social media is still wrong. Ex parte contact with a judge on Facebook is still improper ex parte contact.
2. Remember, if it’s on the Internet, it never goes away. Before you post that picture or post that rant, remember that ten years from now someone will be able to dig it up.
3. Just because you don’t personally use social media, you can’t ignore it. Social media is here to stay. Social media is a regular source of evidence in litigation now. You need to have a functional understanding of what is out there and how it works.
4. If you wouldn’t say something to a business acquaintance or at a cocktail party, don’t say it on social media. Think twice before hitting send. See rule No. 2 above. Every week there is a new story about an attorney being sanctioned for something they posted on the Internet. Corollary to rule No. 4: Anything you post on the Internet can and will be used against you.
5. Create, distribute and discuss a social media/internet policy at your firm. There are serious concerns regarding inadvertently creating attorney client relationships or violating attorney advertising rules with postings on social media. There could also be serious repercussions if something offensive or harmful to a client is posted and linked with your firm.