Can Lawyers and Judges Be Social Media Friends?

QUESTION: I’ve been practicing in my medium-size legal community for going on 20 years. During that time, I’ve watched technology advance my private practice by leaps and bounds, including client development via social media outlets. I embraced Facebook, Twitter and Instagram early on — and it’s paid off in my case.

As I’ve made new friends, in person and online, I’ve watched my social media presence grow. But now I find myself in a potential conundrum. One of my longtime social and professional friends was appointed this year as our newest local judge. We have been social media friends for years.

I haven’t appeared before her yet, but expect I will at some point. Are we obligated to “un-friend” and “unfollow” each other? Our children are friends, too, and participate in many activities together. We share photos online. It appears harmless. Yet I’m thinking it’s not worth the risk.

And, if we do remain online friends, would disclosure of the online connections prevent any perceptions of impropriety?

ANSWER: Are you obligated to remove all social media connections between the bar and bench? Maybe. Nevertheless, would disclosure solve the risks of perceived impropriety? Probably not. Let’s drill down to see how this issue has developed alongside technological changes.

READ MORE Attorney At Work October 24, 2017

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Mark C. Palmer
As Chief Counsel, Mark leads professionalism programming through the statewide mentoring program, collaborating with stakeholders from Galena to Cairo. Mark also supports the development and delivery of educational programming to lawyers and in law schools. When not in the office, you will likely find Mark and his wife busy raising their twin daughters, enjoying his passion of traveling and eating around the world, and training for his next half marathon.
Mark C. Palmer

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