The Florida Bar's New Social Media Rules

The ABA Journal recently reported on the Florida state bar’s new social media rules, enacted as part of new rules on lawyer advertising approved in May by the Florida Supreme Court.

"According to this summary, the guidelines require advertising lawyers to list their names and office addresses, bar misrepresentative testimonials and restrict the use of the words 'specialist' and 'expert,' as well as their variations."

"Many law firms consider the rules regarding Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to be the toughest in the country. Lawyers on Twitter are concerned about the need to state an office location on each tweet. Lawyers on LinkedIn are concerned about the need to ban third-party endorsements and to refrain from using the word 'expertise.' For lawyers on Facebook there is another potential problem—the need to refrain from posting inappropriate or unprofessional photos and videos."

Currently, the "bar is involved in two disciplinary probes regarding LinkedIn, but there are no probes of Twitter violations." As for Facebook, "[o]ne lawyer had pictures of his staff with skirts too short," and he kindly removed them when asked by the bar to do so.

These types of rules only seem to add more questions that answers. If a Florida lawyer tweets and then uses a tiny url to link to the office website, is that sufficient to meet the demands of the new requirement to list office addresses? If not, it would be nearly impossible to ever tweet anything because an office address would certainly take up most of the 140 character limit.

As for LinkedIn, a lot of endorsements and things are done by third parties. I suppose you do have some control over the final endorsements because you have to approve them, but it sets a tough standard to follow.

When it comes to Facebook photos depicting staff with skirts that are too short -- unless the bar starts requiring skirts knee length or longer, I'm not really sure how this is violating any rules. Talk about draconian.

It'll be interesting to see if other state bars follow suit.

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