Social Media Law: What Legal Professionals Must Know

Do you, as a legal professional, have the knowledge you need to maintain your edge in the ever-changing digital landscape of technology, social media, and social media law?

As experts across industries have noted, technology and social media use are now a central part of our lives. Because social media use is so pervasive, legal professionals can no longer afford to ignore, minimize, or misunderstand how social media and technology law relates to all aspects of use. Yet many legal professionals still consider social media a specialty niche of the law, and struggle to keep up.

Whether you specialize in bankruptcy, business, criminal, civil, family, entertainment, immigration, labor, personal injury, or any other area of the law, social media and technology use is likely to apply in some form to any litigation you are likely to encounter.

What areas of the law does social media use impact? Here’s the short list:

  • Copyright and trademark issues
  • Defamation
  • Employee use at work, and how employers may or may not regulate private use
  • Fraud
  • Hiring and employment screening practices
  • Liability
  • Data privacy and security
  • Collection and use of social media evidence in litigation

Understanding how social media and online evidence relates to your case can make all of the difference in the outcome. Often times, the opposing side has already reviewed evidence, and advised their clients of the need to delete, remove, and lock down privacy settings as part of the process.

Additionally, you must know how to represent yourself as a legal professional through social media use, as that information is also critical to advising your clients. Even if you don’t fully understand social media law, you must know how to ask the right questions and where to go for good information.

So, what can you do to be prepared for social media law issues you are likely to encounter during litigation? Below are four primary recommendations.

How to keep up with social media law:
  1. Do your homework. Every legal professional knows the importance of staying in touch with new developments in their area of expertise. Technology and social media law must be added to that list. Keep watch for new laws and regulations, such as those recently approved in California and the European Union, and read up on news/articles published in professional circles.
  2. Sign up for professional development training and classes. Courses for legal professional are popping up in both professional associations and university settings. It’s worth taking the time to sign up, so that you are aware of new developments in your area of legal expertise.
  3. Plan to proactively monitor social media evidence in ALL of your cases for all of your clients. You never know what will be found online, so it’s good to get into the habit of proactively ordering reports as part of your e-discovery process. Think of this step as similar to what any a hiring professional would do when screening potential candidates. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
  4. Hire a professional expert in social media evidence gathering. E-discovery is too important to try to DIY the information. Instead, be ready to call in a consultant when you need one. It’s an investment that will pay off when you avoid costly judgments and mistakes.

Ready to learn more? The team at SMI Aware is here and prepared to help. As experts in social media law, we are here to help you take steps to get educated about the legal issues around social media use. Schedule a 15 minute presentation with us here: 

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