Lawyers Beware: You are What You Post! The Case for Integrating Cultural Competence, Legal Ethics and Social Media
Abstract (to read the entire article go here):
First learn the meaning of what you say, and then speak.
Words used carelessly, as if they… do… not matter in any serious way, often allow… otherwise well-guarded truths to seep through.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the crack hoes out there. It’s never too late to tie your tubes, clean up your life and make difference to someone out there that deserves a better mother.
–Assistant State Attorney in Orange County, Florida
No thought left unspoken…social media networking — ubiquitous in our society — provides the opportunity for individuals to share their moment-to-moment thoughts and actions. Social media has created communities and its own culture. Social networking communities have empowered individuals to join together to stage uprisings, support charitable causes, launch entrepreneurial ventures, and generally share the accomplishments and defeats of their daily lives.
Many lawyers have joined social media networks and are actively participating in both their professional and personal lives. Some lawyers have found social media networks to be beneficial in marketing their practices and in obtaining information and evidence to more effectively represent their clients.
Unfortunately, other lawyers have found themselves caught in a quagmire of ethical and professional missteps resulting in disciplinary problems and loss of employment. These lawyers often fail to appreciate the application of the legal ethics rules and standards of professionalism to the use of social media. Moreover, like many other individuals engaged in social media, these lawyers generally seem to lack cultural awareness and perspective on the far-reaching impact that a social media communication may have upon the audience and ultimately upon the communicator.
This article explores the importance of cultural competence both as a critical component of effective and ethical legal practice and as it pertains to a lawyer’s participation in social media networking. The article will first define cultural competence and its significance for the legal profession. Next, the article will discuss the culture of the legal profession as it is reflected in social science research, popular culture, and scholarly works. Then, the article will examine the culture of social media and the legal profession’s participation in this culture. Finally, the article will explore the interrelationships of cultural competence, the legal profession, and social media with the goal of providing insight and guidance for lawyers to professionally and ethically engage in social networking.