Social media and blogging can be challenging for any profession to navigate, but it may be trickiest for lawyers. After all, it’s not simply a matter of likes and shares for them; they also have to consider legal ramifications.
Josh Camson, Criminal Defense Attorney at CamsonRigby, LLC in the Greater Pittsburgh area, discusses the potential benefits and pitfalls of lawyers pursuing blogging or social media.
1. What type of content marketing are you involved in at a professional level and a personal level?
2. How have you determined what media to pursue professionally versus what you pursue personally?
I try to only write professionally and keep any social media confined to personal use. By not mixing the two I avoid most potential ethical and professional pitfalls.
3. Your practice does not have a social presence. What led you to that decision?
I think there are too many issues when a law firm has a social media presence. First of all, you need someone with enough time to manage it to make it effective, which we do not have. Moreover, there are a lot of potential ethical issues and for the risk/reward analysis we decided it just wasn’t worth it.
4. Are there any forms of social media you feel could be problematic for attorneys in particular?
I think Facebook creates the biggest risk. My biggest concerns are clients “friending” lawyers (who needs their clients knowing that much about them), “checking in” at a law office (and thus waiving potential confidentiality issues), or posing legal questions right out on Facebook.
5. Are there any topics you avoid on social media?
I try to avoid talking about substantive legal issues and keep it to practice management related topics.
6. I found you through a post you wrote on facial hair for lawyers, which struck me as an unusual topic for a lawyer blog but also prompted me to reach out to you. What encouraged you to write it?
I love my beard, and we like to keep Lawyerist lighter from time to time. Also, there are a lot of lawyers out there with unprofessional facial hair or who think facial hair is never acceptable, and I wanted to put that rumor to rest.
7. Do you think blogging is useful for lawyers?
It depends on the practice. I think most people use a blog to help their SEO for their firm website. I guess that could be a help, but it certainly doesn’t contribute great content to the world. But then there are people who write about substantive issues and updates to substantive issues and don’t [necessarily] tie it into their practice. I think that is much more beneficial to everyone.
People are often pretty transparent when they are just writing for SEO.
8. What are your favorite lawyer blogs?
9. Speaking of Serial, do you think it’s a smart blogging strategy for lawyers to blog about cases that are media sensations? Can it be problematic?
I think there are definitely risks of blogging about ongoing cases. But if the lawyer isn’t involved in the case, the biggest risks are writing something that hurts your own reputation or somehow disparages another attorney/the court, or writing content that nobody cares about but is tied into a media-frenzy case to get clicks.
10. [This question was suggested by Camson himself]: What should lawyers consider before creating a comprehensive blogging/social media strategy?
First of all, you need to have some kind of strategy. What kind of content do you want to offer? How often will you post? Who will be in charge of monitoring incoming connections and managing them? These and the time commitment associated are all important questions to answer before just throwing up a Twitter account with your firm’s name on it.