Social networking and client confidentiality

Here is an interesting discussion regarding skittish lawyers and social networking.  The blogger makes the argument that client confidentiality is no more an issue in a social networking context than it would be in a public setting.  However, there is a difference.

LinkedIn, Facebook and other sites allow people to claim each other as friends for all the world to see.

What if you feature your DUI practice on LinkedIn?

You meet someone at a social event and they ask you to draw up an LLC for them.  Afterwards, they decide to ask to connect with you on LinkedIn. Perhaps they didn’t even look at your profile but just saw your name and wanted to connect with you.  Later someone mentions to your client that they saw he was your connection.  The client says that the you had helped them with a legal matter.  This friends asks your client if they knew you did DUI work?

Awkward to say the least

Now your client looks at your LinkedIn profile and sees that you featuring your work as a DUI attorney.  They see their name listed as a connection and worry that people will think they have been arrested for a DUI.  Sure, they can de-connect with you but the incident leaves a bad taste in their mouth.  Is there a ethics violation here?  Probably not.  However, you as the attorney might have a professional duty to make sure that a client who wants to connect with you knows the implications of their actions before doing so.

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One Response to “Social networking and client confidentiality”

  1. neildenny Says:

    Hi Randy. Thanks for linking back, and commenting on my lawyer1point9 blog.

    I agree that there are holes that confidentiality can fall down, but no more than in conventional networking relationships.

    I think this applies here as well. Let’s say the said client is at some swanky cocktail and canapes event – you know, the ones that us lawyers get invited to all the time… or at least used to…

    Scratch that.

    Coffee.

    Let’s say the client is out for a coffee with another contact and he says “Have you met that Neil chap. Great guy. I was doing some work with him in Spring. You should give him a call..”

    His friend says;

    “Don’t know him, but I’ve heard of him. He’s a divorce lawyer isn’t he. Oh…” [awkward silence]

    Its good to find Reading Tea Leaves. I’ll have a look around while I’m here.

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