I would like to thank my colleagues at Harrison Pensa for being Firm Guest Bloggers on Slaw this week. Their articles focus on emerging issues both in substantive law, and the practice of law itself.
I’d like to share some thoughts on the emerging field of social media law, which includes both of those aspects.
Social media has created many challenges for business, including disparate issues such as violations of copyright, trade-marks, confidential information, and privacy, as well as pushing the boundaries on things such as defamation and employer control over employee actions.
Businesses, including law firms, are racing to use social media to build brands and make connections with customers.
Lawyers looking to practice in this area need to be in the game themselves to get a better understanding of how it all works, the rules that are involved, and how the law fits into its practical use. It is not unusual, for example, to see clients put at risk because they don’t follow Facebook contest rules. Or to respond to negative social media in a traditional way that can do more harm than good – known as the Streisand Effect.
Being in the game also helps lawyers understand their clients’ realities, and offers a check and balance against the many self-appointed social media experts dispensing advice.
Lawyers can’t really give good contextual legal advice if they just dabble in social media as opposed to living in it.
It is not a practice area that is for everyone, and certainly not for lawyers who don’t enjoy technological innovation or who like the law and its application to remain consistent.
But it is a natural area for someone like me, who likes technology and innovation, and is a geek at heart. I started blogging almost a decade ago, was a fairly early twitter adopter, and enjoy the constantly changing nature of the tools, and the new aspects of law that these innovations bring.