twisted old tree with a new shoot growing from an eccentric angle

Although there are a limited number of situations in which social media can be a useful part of a law firm's marketing tactics, social media also present serious risks for managing partners and other prominent lawyers whose firms depend on their market presence and reputation.

In short, social media can make you look ignorant, intellectually eccentric, or just plain silly.

Unwise postings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other popular social media can weaken the credibility of a lawyer and, indirectly, his or her law firm.  They can send a message to the world -- and especially to sophisticated consumers of legal services -- that blurs or even completely undermines the clear communication of expertise, service capabilities, and competitive advantages that should be at the core of a marketing strategy.

The fact that you are posting to a personal account offers little protection.  Prominent lawyers, managing partners, and even associates are, to a certain extent, "public figures."  Whether you like it or not, the fact is that your private life in social media can have tremendous impact on your public reputation as a lawyer.

This is why my colleagues and I at Walker Clark urge our clients to develop and publish clear guidelines for the use of social media, both for official communications of the firm, and also for personal communications by its professional members -- especially the partners.

You can seriously hurt your professional credibility and your firm's reputation in fewer characters than it took to write this sentence.

Norman Clark