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CNA Blog — From the Experts

Published Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Do Lawyers Know These Ethical Concerns About LinkedIn and Facebook Use?

Social media saturates our personal and professional lives. From sharing family memories to promoting your firm's expertise to conducting a fraud investigation, the use of a social media platform is a daily — and necessary — task.

According to the ABA TECHREPORT 2016, the No. 1 reason that attorneys participate in social media is for career development and networking (73%), followed by client development (51%), education (35%) and case investigation (21%).

However, social media's influence on legal practice, client relationships and the establishment of boundaries between professional and personal activities must be navigated with care. In a recent edition of PROfessional Counsel, CNA Risk Control Specialist Theresa Garthwaite presents an overview of ethical concerns, practice challenges, potential benefits and the challenges of social media use related to the practice of law.

She points out that Linkedin is the most utilized social media forum for law practitioners, with 78% of firms reporting a social media presence on LinkedIn.

  • LinkedIn's potential benefits: Your firm and your employees can each create their own pages, and the platform is useful for firms seeking to grow their business. In addition, attorneys who share information about their professional success — such as a promotion, credential or award — do not have to worry about their posts becoming obscured among unrelated personal matters.
  • LinkedIn's potential risks: Users may unintentionally run afoul of relevant rules of professional conduct. LinkedIn offers members the option to "endorse" or "recommend" other members for their skill sets. However, such endorsements may not comply with ABA Model Rule 7.4 (d): Communication of Fields of Practice & Specialization.


If you and your firm intend to be active on social media, it's wise to create an account on a platform in which your posts will attract visibility. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly eight in 10 Americans (79%) use Facebook, which is double the usage of any other social platform. Note that while it's not uncommon for attorneys and clients to be both colleagues and friends, ensure that you exercise caution when connecting with a client on Facebook.


  • Facebook's potential benefits: Attorneys and law firms can capitalize on Facebook's vast reach of users. The platform is a user-friendly social media option for attorneys.
  • Facebook's potential risks: The platform offers great diversity in both its user participation and the content shared, including personal information. Therefore, professional posts reflecting legal practice may be inconsistent with the scope of a typical Facebook post. "Tagging," a process in which one user identifies another, can present issues as the tag could identify an attorney or a law firm in a shared post or photo. This action could create an erroneous appearance of an attorney-client relationship.


When potential clients contact an attorney or law firm through social media, lawyers should remain vigilant in adhering to the ethical responsibilities that you may owe to any prospective client.

For more information on the use of social media in client representations, or on using social media as a solo practitioner, download Theresa Garthwaite's article in CNA PROfessional Counsel: "Practicing Law in the Age of Social Media."




One or more of the CNA companies provide the products and/or services described. The information is intended to present a general overview for illustrative purposes only. Read CNA’s General Disclaimer.
One or more of the CNA companies provide the products and/or services described. The information is intended to present a general overview for illustrative purposes only. Read CNA’s General Disclaimer.
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