Law Firm Employees and Social Media: Present and Future Dangers

A brand new study by CISCO reveals findings about the attitudes of 20-somethings entering the workforce which, while perhaps unsurprising in the abstract, carry significant practical implications for hiring and keeping new employees from admin clerks to Associates.

For example:

  • 68% of young professional employees believe that corporate devices should be used for personal social media use
  • Seven of ten employees admitted to knowingly breaking IT policies on a regular basis, and three of five believe they are not responsible for protecting corporate information and devices
  • Seven out of ten young professionals seek to “friend” their managers and co-workers on Facebook
  • 80% of young professional employees said their company’s IT policy on social media and device usage was outdated – if such a policy existed at all

As baby boomer lawyers – from solos to big law managing partners – grapple with the growing (and inter-connected) challenges of personal succession and law firm continuity, the role of social media and internet use will loom ever larger.

Two imperatives:

  1. At a minimum, firms need to look at their written policy and focus energy on updating them (see resources, below).
  2. Firms also need to explicitly address social media use expectations in the interview process. Get specific. Ask candidates about their expectations for using social media and the net on firm devices both during the work day and outside of the work day. How much time do they want to spend? What are some examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of social media (beyond obvious answers)?

Here’s a summary info graphic from the Cisco study. It will not only jog your thinking, but you can use it to craft interview questions for new candidates, and as fodder to start a conversation when tackling your social media use policy.

Yes, this is a daunting area, but it should be obvious by now that dealing with social media in your firm is a task that must be gone through, not gone around.

So here are two excellent resources:

Social Media Policy Template from Jaffe PR, a firm specializing in law firm public relations.

Sample Social Media Policy & Commentary from the ABA 2010 Annual Conference, Labor & Employment Law Section.

Call us if you have questions about your social media and internet use policy plan. We can help streamline the process from design, to roll out, to monitoring. 

About the Author

Bill Jawitz, Law Firm Coach and Consultant

Bill Jawitz has been coaching lawyers to become more profitable and enjoy a higher quality of life since 2002.

He can be reached at or at 203.806.1300.

I maintain a deep library of hundreds of best-of-breed checklists, templates, guides, and white papers on every aspect of managing a legal practice and law firm, from lawyer marketing plans, to hiring process checklists, to alternative fee engagement letters.

If you need a quick resource, call me. I’ll send you what I have on the topic free of charge with no strings.

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