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RAKEWORLD
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY AND PROCEDURES AND SOCIAL
NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES
AND PROCEDURES
Today, social media encompasses a broad sweep of online activities, all of which are trackable and traceable.
These networks include not only the blogs you write and those on which you comment, but social networks such
as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+; professional networks such as LinkedIn and Legal OnRamp; social
media channels such as Twitter (to include auxiliary press and media Twitter communities such as Muck Rack);
social bookmarking sites such as StumbleUpon and Digg; and social sharing sites such as Slide Share and Box.
net. There are new online tools, platforms and advances within social and digital media that are constantly being
introduced and that will continue to provide new opportunities to help your firm build its virtual footprint.
As a social Network, we believe that social media can drive business and support our professional development efforts – and
recent research agrees:
HubSpot finds that companies that blog welcome an average of 55% more visitors to their
sites than companies that don’t.
Blogging companies may generate 97% more external website links and 434%
more indexed pages, both of which are critical to a company’s search rank. And a global survey by McKinsey of
approximately 1,700 corporate executives finds that 69% of respondents claim measurable advantages from social
media, including a lower cost of doing business, better access to knowledge, increased marketing effectiveness,
insight for developing more innovative products and services, and higher revenues.
We are also aware that social media will not be used exclusively for business; keeping that in mind, we attempt
here to provide reasonable guidelines for online behavior by members of our firm when participating online on
behalf of our firm. As new tools on the Web are introduced and new challenges emerge for all of us, this document
will, of necessity, evolve.
These points represent our firm’s new social media and social networking policies and procedures.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
YOUR IDENTITY ONLINE

You are responsible for what you post. You are personally responsible for any of your online activity conducted
with a firm email address or that can be traced back to the firm’s domain or that uses firm assets.
When using
a firm email address or firm assets to engage in any social media or professional social networking activity
(for example, LinkedIn and Legal OnRamp), all actions are public and attorneys and staff will be held fully
responsible for any and all said activities.
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•Your rights to privacy and free speech protect online activity conducted on your
personal social networks with your personal email address. However, what you publish on such personal
online sites should never be attributed to the firm; should not be about the firm; and should not appear to
be endorsed by or originated from the Rakewold.com. If you choose to list your work affiliation on a social network,
then you should regard all communication on that network as you would in a professional network. Online
lives are ultimately linked, whether or not you choose to mention the Rakewold.com in your personal online networking
activity.

Be transparent. When participating in any online community, disclose your identity and affiliation with the
Rakewold.com, your clients, and your professional or personal interest. When posting to a blog, always use your name.
Never create an alias and never be anonymous.

Follow the rules in the FIRM NAME’s Employee Staff Manual. These rules also apply to employee behavior
within social networking and other public online spaces.

Follow the terms and conditions of use that have been established by each venue used for your social
networking activities.

Obey the law. Do not post any information or conduct any online activity that may violate applicable local,
state or federal laws or regulations.

Never be false or misleading in your online credentials. Attorneys and other professional staff members must
maintain complete accuracy in all of their online biographies (bios) and ensure there is no embellishment.
For example, if a lawyer’s bio states “Harvard-trained” after the attorney attended a weekend CLE course at
Harvard, it is inaccurate and noncompliant with the rules.

Use the words “expert” or “specialize” very sparingly and only when such claims can be substantiated and are
approved for usage by the appropriate state bar association.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
CREATING AND MANAGING CONTENT

Be direct, informative and brief. Follow your state bar’s ethics rules regarding social networking.

Never use a firm client’s name in a blog posting unless you have written permission to do so.

Credit appropriately. Identify all copyrighted or borrowed material with citations and links. When publishing
any material online that includes another person’s direct or paraphrased quotes, thoughts, ideas, photos or
videos, always give credit to the original material or author, where applicable.

Fact-check your posts. Always evaluate your contribution’s accuracy and truthfulness. Before posting any
online material, ensure that the material is accurate, truthful and without factual error.

Spell- and grammar-check everything. Content never disappears entirely once it’s been posted.

Correct errors promptly. If you find that your blog entry contains an error or mistake, correct it immediately.
Since transparency is key, admit your mistake, apologize if necessary, correct it and move on.

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While a blog itself is not subject to the limitation on commercial speech, the content of a blog can be. The
content must be informative only and nothing in the content should propose a commercial transaction or be
for the purpose of directly gaining a commercial transaction. The threshold question to ask is, “Does the
content articulate commercial speech in any way?” If so, it’s likely to be subject to state rules.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
LEAVING COMMENTS

When posting to a blog, refrain from writing about controversial or potentially inflammatory subjects,
including politics, sex, religion or any other non-business related subjects. Keep the tone of your comments
respectful and informative, never condescending or “loud.” Use sentence-case format, not capital letters.
Stick to this maxim whenever you are contributing to any blogs or social and professional networks.

Avoid personal attacks, online fights and hostile communications. If a blogger or any other online influencer
posts a statement with which you disagree, voice your opinion but do not escalate the conversation to a
heated argument. Write reasonably, factually and with good humor. Understand and credit the other person’s
point of view and avoid any communications that could result in personal, professional or credibility attacks.

Never disclose proprietary or confidential information.

When appropriate and possible, provide a link to your LinkedIn or Legal OnRamp profile, or to supporting
documents. This will help raise your search results.

If in doubt, don’t comment!

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
CONFIDENTIALITY AND PRIVACY

Don’t disclose confidential information. Honor the terms of your contracts with the firm and contracts we
have with any clients. Do not disclose or use confidential or proprietary information of the firm or any client
in any form of online media. Sharing this type of information, even unintentionally, can result in legal action
against you, the firm or the client.

Avoid forums where there is little control over what you know to be confidential information. In the world
of social networking, there is often a breach of confidentiality when someone emails an attorney or posts
a comment congratulating him or her on representation of a specific client or on a specific case. Often, these
things are being discussed in social network circles – it’s how attorneys are establishing credibility – so be
very selective and thoughtful about where you post and how you reply – or don’t.

Respect the privacy of your partners and associates, as well as the opinions of others. Before sharing a
comment, post, picture or video about a client or other attorney through any type of social media or network,
obtaining the client’s or attorney’s consent is not only a courtesy; it is a requirement.

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SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
POTENTIAL CONFLICTS AND RED FLAGS
Get approval for a post when:

Responding to a negative post. If a blogger or any other online participant posts an inaccurate, accusatory or
negative comment about the firm or any firm clients, do not engage in the conversation without prior approval of (unknown Person).

Posting recommendations for colleagues. Posting recommendations for colleagues is a tool of professional
social networking sites. The recommendations and comments you post about other current and former firm
attorneys can have consequences, even if you are making the recommendations personally and not on
behalf of the firm.

Check your state’s particular prohibitions or limitations on testimonials before posting any online.

Use a disclaimer if you communicate electronically about fees, awards, recent cases or case outcomes. (NOTE
TO FIRM:
Do you want to require prior approval for this?
) Be aware that attorney-client relationships may be
created online – this often occurs in social media, regardless of whether you want it to. Use of a firm approved
disclaimer may be appropriate. (NOTE TO FIRM:
Some firms are building in pop-up boxes that stop someone
from emailing an attorney until and unless they accept the required terms of a disclaimer before emailing
information that could constitute an attorney-client relationship.
)
SOCIAL MEDIA AND SOCIAL NETWORKING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES:
BUILDING
YOUR VIRTUAL FOOTPRINT AND YOUR NETWORK

Build a reputation of trust among your clients, media and the public. When you are reaching out to journalists,
bloggers, clients or colleagues through social media, take every opportunity to build a reputation of trust
and establish yourself as a credible and transparent legal professional.

Don’t use your own personal online relationships or the firm’s network to influence polls, rankings or Web
traffic.

When using social networks with your firm email and professional identification, do not “friend” anyone
whom you either do not actually know or with whom you have not previously corresponded.

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NOTE TO FIRM:
Lastly, please consider the following checklist, crafted by a lawyer. It outlines factors that a firm should take into account when crafting its own blogging policy and
makes suggestions for how to make the most of blogging activities. We suggest you answer these questions as
you seek to customize the policies and procedures we have provided to you. This checklist is written specifically
for blogs, but can apply to all social media tools.
1.
Who owns the blog
– the firm or individual lawyer(s)? Firm ownership is suggested if using the blog to
extend the brand of firm and enhance the reputation of a practice group. Copyright reflects ownership
decided.
2.
Who will blog
– one author or multiple authors in a group blog? The firm must approve and identify all
authors and blogs before publication of any and all content.
3.
Does the blog(s) have a specific focus or niche?
The narrower the focus, the better. Articulate. Be specific
with regard to the type of law your firm practices. Speak to your clientele and what you know will interest
them the most.
4.
Does the firm need specific guidelines for blogs?
Maybe not. Review existing guidelines, practices and
procedures.
5.
How are email newsletters, media relations and client development issues handled?
With minor
revisions, professional blogging may easily be covered under existing firm practices.
6.
Has the firm drafted an appropriate blog disclaimer and privacy policy?
Disclaimers need to state
that no attorney/client relationship is being formed and no legal advice is being dispensed. See also ethics
points, below.
7.
Does the firm need to restrict blog content?
Some firms may wish to restrict blog content to be general
and informational, similar to email newsletters and alerts. Other firms may wish to take a more progressive,
and usually more successful, approach to blogging by linking to and referencing other blog posts and news
stories. By doing so, you’re joining the conversation as an authority in your field. Depending on the
circumstances, lawyers may wish to avoid taking too strong a position on a particular legal topic. Generally,
you don’t want to be blogging about existing clients and matters on which members of the firm are working.
8.
What’s the blog posting and comment policy?
Most firms, subject to general oversight, let blog authors
write and publish without showing content to practice chairs or marketing before posting. Comments from
blog readers should be allowed. Not to allow comments risks embarrassment to the firm, but blog software
preferences should enable the blog author(s) or another designated party to review and approve comments
before they go live. Expect no more than three or four comments per month. Appropriate comments may be
published.
9.
How frequently should blogs be updated?
The most effective bloggers post new content on a consistent
basis (at least once a week); whatever your posting schedule is, consistency is a key element. Blog author(s)
posting on an irregular schedule are difficult to follow. To develop a compelling voice, the author should
write and post – not someone else. A post should be relatively short – a few paragraphs (200–500 words
may be fine). In many cases, take no more than 20 to 30 minutes to write a post.

10.
What is the role of the marketing (or business development) department?
The ideal role of the marketing or business development department is general oversight of social media. Decide who responds to media requests directed to blog authors.

11.
How does the firm ensure that published blog content shares and extends the reach of the firm’s
intellectual capital and maintains and enhances the firm’s reputation (quality control)?
One of
the best ways to enter social media discussions is to follow relevant RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds, and
to reference and comment on other respected bloggers and their posts.