FacebookLawyers who are not on Facebook are missing out on critical opportunities to network for referrals, research defendants and potential jury members, market their law firms, and vet potential legal hires and current associates.

Lawyers who use it solely for personal reasons should reevaluate their use to consider the site’s possibilities for marketing and the development of professional relationships.

For those lawyers who still need persuading, here, in no specific order, are the top six reasons why lawyers should be on Facebook:

  1. Facebook can bring you referrals and clients by helping you to reconnect with old classmates, colleagues, and friends through direct contact both formal (messages) and informal (wall posts), events, and interest groups.
  2. Facebook can help you strengthen relationships with colleagues, both those at your firm or organization, and others. It does this by fostering open communication about shared interests, activities and family life, and by offering opportunities to connect through groups and events.
  3. Facebook Pages are great marketing tools. Pages allow you to post videos, photos, notes, blogs, and other interactive and community-building applications. Once you have created a page, you can promote it through the site’s Social Ads, although you should make sure to stay within the ethical rules for client solicitation in doing so. For more information about how lawyers can market themselves and their businesses on the site, read 3 Things All Lawyers & Attorneys Should Do to Market More Effectively on Facebook and 10 Things All Businesses Should Do to Market More Effectively on Facebook.
  4. Facebook is often used by jury consultants to evaluate potential jurors before and during trial. This internet vetting can disclose juror’s associations, interests or past statements that may make a lawyer want to strike them from the jury pool or prioritize keeping them on the case, and can provide a lawyer with insights into specific jurors which may be beneficial in crafting effective closing arguments. See Social Networking Sites Help Vet Jurors.
  5. Facebook can be an effective tool for investigating defendants, witnesses, and prosecutors. Evidence revealed from profile searches has been used to prove that a defendant had no remorse after committing a crime, to prove a defendant’s motive, as evidence of the crime itself or of an individual’s participation in a crime, and to show the extent of plaintiffs’ injuries after an accident. See MySpace and Facebook Becoming Evidence in Court.
  6. Through Facebook you can research potential job applicants’ public statements, photos and questionable social activity. A search of the site may also reveal statements by current employees regarding your firm or their workload. However, since the site may also reveal otherwise unknown protected information (race, religion, political affiliation) about job applicants or employees, be careful not to take adverse action based on that information.

Most likely you want to use the site for more than professional networking, marketing, recruiting, and branding. You may want to show pictures of your children to your friends, comment on your best friends’ night on the town, or publicize to an upcoming political event.

Just because you want to use Facebook for professional reasons does not mean you should stop using the site for personal reasons. The second article in this series (stay tuned next week) will discuss privacy risks and opportunities, and several ways that you can tailor your privacy controls to your personal and professional needs.

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