Social networking guidelines for users of the Ohio State Bar Association website
Social media allows the Ohio State Bar Association to interact with its members and the public and can facilitate member-to-member dialog. Social networks, including, but not limited to, blogging, microblogging (Twitter), networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn), discussion lists, podcasts and social media (YouTube), offer opportunities for outreach, information sharing and interaction.
The Ohio State Bar Association supports the use of these Internet technologies to increase member engagement, build community and improve access to information, resulting in greater value to our members and the public. These tools are another method to communicate with a variety of audiences, but may not be appropriate in all instances nor for all kinds of outreach.
Guidelines for social networking
Represent the Ohio State Bar Association and the legal profession well. Exercise good judgment. Entities and individuals who fail to do so, or who fail to comply with these guidelines, may forfeit the right to participate in social networking activities sponsored by Ohio State Bar Association.
Be aware that inappropriate use of social media may subject an attorney or judge to discipline for failing to adhere to applicable Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) or Code of Judicial Conduct (CJC), as well as civil or criminal liability and penalties.
When using Ohio State Bar Association social media, please adhere to the following guidelines.
- Be responsible. You are personally responsible for the material you post. Carefully consider content; what you publish will be widely accessible for some time and, in some cases, indefinitely. All statements must be true and not misleading. Do not post private information about yourself or others. Keep the posts relevant to the Ohio State Bar Association’s mission and/or goals. Adhere to all statutory prescriptions and the RPC and, as applicable, CJC.
- Be upfront; identify yourself. Use your real name, and, if relevant, your role or interest in the topic discussed. Recall that only the president or designee should speak on behalf of the Ohio State Bar Association.
- Be civil and respectful. It is acceptable to disagree with others, but do not use defamatory, libelous, or damaging innuendo; abusive, threatening, offensive, obscene, explicit, or racist language; or post illegal material.
- Be quick to correct an error. If you make a mistake, admit it. Quickly provide the correct information. If appropriate, modify an earlier post to make it clear that you have corrected an error.
- Keep it relevant/add value. Write about what you know. Information can add value if it contributes to the legal community’s knowledge or skills, improves the legal system or public understanding of the legal system, or builds a sense of community.
- Follow copyright and fair use laws. Always give people proper credit for their work. Make sure you have the right to use material with attribution before publishing. It is a good practice to link to others’ work rather than reproducing it on your site. When in doubt as to the proprietary nature of material, do not use it. Recognize the potential professional and legal consequences of any failure to follow applicable laws governing the use of others’ material.
- Protect proprietary and client information. Do not discuss or misuse proprietary or confidential information, and follow all professional and ethical rules governing lawyers, and, as applicable, judges. When in doubt, leave it out.
- Avoid politics.
- Avoid religion.
- Comply with Ohio rules governing lawyer and, as applicable, judicial conduct. Comply with all legal restrictions and obligations governing professional conduct, particularly those regulating communication and advertising, when posting content to any social network.
- Do not violate antitrust laws. Antitrust laws prohibit postings that encourage or facilitate agreements between Ohio State Bar Association members of different firms concerning the following, as they pertain to legal services: prices, discounts, or terms or conditions of sale; salaries; profits, profit margins, or cost data; market shares, sales territories, or markets; allocation of customers or suppliers; or any other term or condition related to competition.
- Avoid blatant marketing. Blatant marketing or advertising by individuals is inconsistent with the purposes of general dialogue and information exchange. Ohio State Bar Association may use its own social media site to promote programs and services.
Enforcing these guidelines
Ohio State Bar Association reserves the right to monitor these sites and will take appropriate action to enforce these guidelines.
Approved by Ohio State Bar Association Board of Governors, May 4, 2011.