8 Tips for Increasing Your Law Firm’s Facebook Audience

Have you noticed recently that no matter how many likes your law firm’s Facebook page has, your new posts seem to reach fewer and fewer people? Sure, you can pay to boost your posts, and with options starting at $5, it seems like a reasonably cheap option. But you maintain your Facebook page for the free advertising that you can get through social media! Every dine you spend there is above-and-beyond what you had planned for! Sadly, the era of being able to generate a ton of engagement via your company page on Facebook is over.  While there are some success stories still out there, more companies are following Copyblogger’s lead and deleting their company pages entirely (Copyblogger had over 40,000 page likes!) However, there are a few things you can do to improve the circulation of your company page’s posts.  All it takes is understanding how Facebook determines what appears in your followers’ news feeds.  Here are my 8 Tips for Increasing Your Law Firm’s Facebook Audience: 1) Pony up and pay a little. Yes, I’m sorry that this tip had to be first, particularly considering how obvious it is.  Unfortunately, paying for some advertising is the best way to get your posts seen by as many people as possible.  Your ad buy can be as little as $5 to boost a particular post, but there are other things to keep in mind as well! #165908176 / gettyimages.com Your default setting will be to advertise to friends and people who have liked your page.  However, you can also have your ad targeted based on geography, age, and interest, something... read more

The Ethics of Social Media, Pt. 5 [Slideshow]

Part 1: The Importance of Social Media to the Modern Law Practice Part 2: Marketing Your Practice on Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool Part 6: Advise Your Clients Wisely! (June 12, 2014) Social media is, at its most basic level, a tool for communication. Sure, it’s a great way for your firm to market your services locally. It’s also a great way for some 23 year-old to completely screw up their own personal injury case by posting inappropriate pictures shortly before trial. But at it’s core, it’s about communication. However, it’s a communication tool that archives, stores, indexes, and is searchable. That’s right, it’s your communication history. I can find out quite a lot about you by checking out your social media accounts. Quite a lot of information that may be useful, say, if you were to be on my list of potential jurors for a major case. The ethical rules have been particularly slow to keep up with this facet of social media. However, in Part 5 of my presentation on the Ethics of Social Media, I discuss some ways to keep yourself within ethical bounds while performing your due diligence. Ethics of Social Media, Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool from Brian Focht Using social media to conduct research on witnesses, parties, jurors, and judges is about as close to walking through a minefield as one gets in litigation. On one hand, given todays society, most people share critically important information about their personal beliefs, prejudices, and predispositions... read more

5 Reasons Social Media Discovery Doesn’t Work

Social media is where we go to tell people about what’s going on in our lives, particularly for millenials and Gen-Xers. It stands to reason, then, that social media is one of the first places attorneys should look during discovery. In the abstract, failing to request social media in discovery is really poor litigation strategy at best, legal malpractice at worst. Practically speaking, actually obtaining all relevant information from an opposing party’s social media will rarely be worthwhile, and in general, doesn’t work. There are a lot of reasons why: 1) the sheer number of social media options available now render many requests irrelevant because they’re either to0 narrowly written or incredibly overbroad; 2) many attorneys use the same form discovery they’ve used for years… which predate the Carter administration, let alone the rise of social media. However, other barriers that are not quite as institutional stand between an attorney and full, complete disclosure of relevant social media. Those barriers are tedious and often expensive to overcome. And it is due to those barriers that social media discovery is a waste: 1) Social Media Discovery relies on the willingness and honesty of opposing party. So you write your discovery, narrowly tailored to the personal injury case that you’re defending. It asks for all posts concerning the injury in question, as well as any posts concerning the emotional trauma the injury allegedly caused, as well as the loss of consortium claim that has been posted. No question that they would hold up under a judge’s scrutiny. You send them to plaintiff’s attorney, whose paralegal calls up the plaintiff and asks… what exactly? That’s right –... read more

The Ethics of Social Media, Pt. 4 [Slideshow]

Part 1: The Importance of Social Media to the Modern Law Practice Part 2: Marketing Your Practice on Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool Part 6: Advise Your Clients Wisely! (June 12, 2014) Knowing how to use social media is important not only to improve your ability to market your firm. Social media is ubiquitous in our society – everyone uses it in some form or another. Messages, pictures, videos… discoverable, frequently relevant information. It’s becoming increasingly clear that in order to competently perform our jobs as litigators, we have to know how to request, and produce, social media information in discovery. In part 4 of my presentation, The Ethics of Social Media, I discuss ways to conduct discovery involving social media. Ethics of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery from Brian Focht When requesting social media in discovery, there is an essential distinction that you must understand in order to be effective: the difference between making a narrowly-tailored, effective request and an overly broad fishing expedition. The first request will be honored – opposing parties will be obligated to search their own social media for responsive information. The second request will result in being bench slapped. Understanding the difference is beginning to be thought of as an ethical requirement. At the moment, there is no existing standard for what truly separates an overreaching fishing expedition from a relevant, appropriate request. Various courts have decided the issue in very different ways. In Moore v. Miller, No. 1:10-cv-00651-JLK-MJW (D. Colo. June 6, 2013),... read more

The Ethics of Social Media, Pt. 3 [Slideshow]

Part 1: The Importance of Social Media to the Modern Law Practice Part 2: Marketing Your Practice on Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool Part 6: Advise Your Clients Wisely! (June 12, 2014) Social media is an important tool for attorneys. Knowledge of its use is important when promoting your firm and advising your clients. However, one aspect of social media that too frequently gets ignored is an attorney’s personal use of social media. We like to think that when we’re “off the clock” that what we say and do reflects only on us personally – and that it should have no direct impact on our professional lives. Unfortunately, that just isn’t the world we live in. Attorneys have to expect that whatever they post on social media will reflect on the attorney and the attorney’s firm. With that in mind, part 3 of my presentation, The Ethics of Social Media, discusses the personal use of social media by attorneys: Ethics of Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media from Brian Focht We tend to believe that when we’re “off the clock,” we are able to become entirely private citizens, and post to social media are unrelated to our professional lives. The reality is, unfortunately, quite different. Take, for example, the case of Pittsburgh attorney Steven Regan, which I discussed in detail in this article. The situations that one must pay close attention to are numerous, and cover a wide variety of activities. Regardless of what platform you’re using, from... read more

The Ethics of Social Media, Pt. 2 [Slideshow]

Part 1: The Importance of Social Media to the Modern Law Practice Part 2: Marketing Your Practice on Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool Part 6: Advise Your Clients Wisely! (June 12, 2014) As you saw in Part 1, Social Media is a tool that lawyers can ill-afford to ignore. It’s used by essentially everyone: your family, your friends, your clients, your judge, your competition. Understanding how to use social media, and even more importantly – understanding how to use it ethically, is critical for lawyers in the 21st century. One of the best ways a lawyer can harness social media to improve their practice is to utilize the phenomenal marketing capabilities found on social media. However, before you dive headlong into promoting your practice on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other sites, you need to make sure your marketing complies with ethical rules. In Part 2 of my presentation, find out how to promote your firm on social media, ethically: The Ethics of Social Media Part 2: Marketing Your Law Practice from Brian Focht The real story about the ethics of social media is that lawyers must remember that the rules still apply! All the general rules that you apply to your other types of advertising will apply generally to advertising on social media: Make sure that your advertisements aren’t false or misleading; If you compare your services to that of another attorney/law firm, be sure you have objective information to back up your comparisons; Only post testimonials that you have personally fact-checked;... read more

The Ethics of Social Media, Pt. 1 [Slideshow]

Part 1: The Importance of Social Media to the Modern Law Practice Part 2: Marketing Your Practice on Social Media Part 3: Personal Use of Social Media Part 4: Social Media in Discovery Part 5: Social Media as a Research Tool Part 6: Advise Your Clients Wisely! (June 12, 2014) Lawyers aren’t the best at adapting to trends in technology, so it’s really no surprise that we haven’t taken to Social Media very well. Most practicing attorneys are likely quite happy to live and work in absolute ignorance of what’s being said on Twitter and the best new video on Vine. However, as time goes by, the fact of the matter is, social media is here to stay. However, just knowing about social media probably isn’t going to be sufficient to remain relevant nowadays. Before you dive in headfirst, make sure you’re equipped to survive (or at least enough so you won’t routinely commit egregious ethical violations)! This presentation is a guide for attorneys through the complex world that is the Ethics of Social Media. In Part 1, I explain the what and the why of social media involvement for lawyers. Check it out: The Ethics of Social Media Part 1: Social Is Necessary from Brian Focht Social media is becoming more and more necessary for lawyers, and not just so that you can follow your favorite celebrities while at work. Social media can impact an number of aspects of your law practice, not least of which is your clients and their cases. In Lester v. Allied Concrete Co., Nos. CL08-150, 09-223, the plaintiff, who filed a wrongful death lawsuit... read more

5 Major Social Media Trends for Lawyers in 2014

For many firms, social media is already a major part of advertising their services to potential clients. Yet for others, it’s a mere afterthought (if it exists at all). When used poorly, its value is limited, if not downright negative. When used effectively, as part of an overall marketing strategy, social media can be a tremendous benefit to any firm. Whether you’re skeptical about its uses or not, nobody can argue with the fact that the world of social media moves quickly. Keeping up with social media trends can be tough for anyone. With that in mind, here are 5 Major Social Media Trends for Lawyers in 2014: 1) Take advantage of new options to improve your firm’s social media pages. One of the most important things that any company can do is use all available opportunities to educate potential clients. This education must begin with your company’s basic biographical information. On social media sites, that means a complete company bio page. Failing to take advantage of social media by leaving portions of your firm bio blank is unacceptable. In 2014, there are two new tools that law firms can utilize to increase the amount of information potential clients can get from their social media pages: LinkedIn Showcase Pages and the Twitter Profile Pages (currently in beta testing). LinkedIn Showcase Pages are essentially “highlight” pages for your LinkedIn Company Page. For my guide on improving your LinkedIn Company Page, click here. Designed to allow your company to emphasize certain aspects of your business, LinkedIn Showcase pages are perfect for highlighting your firm’s top practice areas. Twitter’s new profile pages, while not... read more

eDiscovery and Social Media: The Duty to Preserve

The rise of Social Media has created numerous questions and issues when it comes to our ethical responsibilities. Can we advise clients to modify their Facebook page to make sure there are no offensive posts should a juror decide to look them up during trial? How about suggesting selective edits of certain portions of an Instagram page, or suggesting that a client add certain items to a Pinterest page to look more socially acceptable? All of these situations implicate an important ethical responsibility lawyers have regarding potential evidence: the duty to preserve. While it is ethically permissible to advise a client on actions they may take in the future, courts have come down hard on litigants and attorneys who have failed to preserve evidence contained in Social Media accounts. Here are several important rulings regarding the duty to preserve social media evidence from 2013: In Gatto v. United Air Lines, Inc., No. 10-CV-1090-ES-SCM, 2013 WL 1285285 (D. N.J. March 25, 2013), the court found that the plaintiff’s actions to deactivate his Facebook account during litigation amounted to spoliation of evidence. In Gatto, plaintiff’s Facebook account had been the subject of numerous discovery requests and at least one discovery conference. Id at *1-2. Plaintiff even adjusted the password to give defendants access, although discussion about the extent of access defendants would have was ongoing. Id. However, after being notified of access to his Facebook account from an unknown IP address, plaintiff deactivated his account. Id. Facebook permanently deleted the account information, and the court held that it was likely that, contrary to plaintiff’s assertions, he had taken steps beyond simple... read more

Tweets of Wrath: This Attorney Didn’t Listen (Part 2)

Illinois Attorney Betty Tsamis, the subject of my article Tweets of Wrath: This Attorney Didn’t Listen, has received a reprimand for violating ethical rules regarding client confidences and maintenance of her client trust account. Ms. Tsamis is most recognized for her reaction to her client’s Avvo review, which I discuss at length in the above-cited article. The full text of the decision can be read here, but the decision is notable in that it appears to go to great lengths to avoid discussion of her violation of the rules regarding the Avvo review. In fact, the sanction itself appears to be primarily based on her violation regarding management of her trust account. None of the mitigating factors appear to directly address her conduct regarding the Avvo review, and none of the language that Ms. Tsamis consented to even mentions her conduct in responding to the review. The reprimand itself even omits the actual language of Ms. Tsamis’s response that allegedly violated attorney-client confidentiality. Speaking to the ABA Journal, one of Ms. Tsamis’s attorneys said: “While we believe that Ms. Tsamis’ conduct was within the [ethics rules], this matter raises an important issue for all lawyers—especially those who are active on attorney-review websites and have the opportunity to comment on client reviews posted to these types of websites. “Lawyers should be cautious that if they choose to respond, that their response does not exceed what is necessary to respond to the review and should be mindful that they do not reveal client confidences in violation of the rule. Ms. Tsamis recognizes the importance of Rule 1.6 and the need to... read more
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