The Looming Social Media Mess for Law Firms

The Looming Social Media Mess for Law Firms

The Looming Social Media Mess for Law Firms 150 150 Jason Krause

In a recent interview, sports and entertainment reporter Chris Connelly talked about how he became an active social media user for his job. “I just got the feeling that my esteemed corporate overlords kinda wanted people on Twitter,” he said.

However, he notes that despite this vague directive, there is little control over the use of the tools. “I have strong sense of slander and libel laws, and every time I sit in a social media meeting at ESPN, I just think, ‘this just seems like a nightmare waiting to happen.'”

It’s not just news where social media is an integral part of doing business today. In fact, eighty percent of executives say social media engagement leads to increased sales. Social media isn’t just an alternate communications mechanism; it’s a part of doing business. But as businesses accept this fact, they have largely failed to put effective controls or management in place for this new media.

Lawyers Have the Same Problem With Social Media

According to the ABA 2012 Legal Technology Survey Report, 88 percent of the respondents’ firms are on LinkedIn, which is now becoming accepted as a legal directory. Additionally, 55 percent use Facebook and 13 percent can be found on Twitter. Over 11 percent of attorneys say they use social media for professional reasons, up from 6 percent in 2011.

Meanwhile, it is dawning on legal departments that this embrace of social media is not well regulated. According to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), on the list of things that scare corporate counsel, social media management is near the top of the list. Almost 60 percent say that social media management is an important concern.

The Wall Street Journal reports that law firm budgets are actually rising, but it is wrong to think there is money to actively manage all of these concerns. “General counsel are still under the gun to keep costs down, even as they contend with heightened scrutiny – and criminal prosecution – of regulatory and compliance infractions.”

It is relatively easy to archive social media content. But doing it effectively takes a little foresight and planning. Many social media tools now have built-in archiving functions. But these tools do not solve lawyers’ eDiscovery concerns if the data is not maintained in a manageable and usable format.

Social Media Discovery & Regulation

An ideal social media archive should be preserved in native formats, stored in the cloud, and provide a complete view of these communications. But to be useful, the archive must have sophisticated search capabilities that can continually index and find content, as social media use continues to explode. The key to social media preservation is not only to have it preserved, but to have it easily accessible, indexed, and search-enabled.

Social media archives can provide a defensible and useful tool to meet any regulatory, litigation, or legal demand. But it cannot simply be dumping grounds for data.

Review the data so that it fits into a straightforward and easily navigable data map. A well-designed and deployed social media archive, maintained with input from regular audits and updates, will be able to manage the collection, preservation, review, and production of social media – no matter what technological changes may occur in the coming years.