5 Top Social Media Tips for Law Students
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are an integral part of students’ lives.
Here, Francine Ryan, lecturer in law and member of the Open Justice Centre at The Open University, delves into five quick tips for making the most of today’s social media tools in your legal study days.
According to The Guardian the ‘18 to 25 age group is the most active demographic on social media’. Using social networks in a meaningful way to engage and connect while avoiding any major mishaps needs careful consideration. Here are 5 top tips to help you successfully use social media platforms:
Create relationships with the legal profession
Social media networks provide a valuable opportunity to connect directly with law firms. Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook allow you to find out what is happening within a law firm and the wider legal market. Don’t be afraid to engage through sharing, liking and replying to posts- but remember to think carefully about language and frequency of comments- make sure you are selective and choose your words carefully to create the best impression. Use these platforms for research to inform your job applications and, before a job interview, find out as much as you can about the firm and the interview panel.
Showcasing your skills
Blogging is an effective way of displaying your writing skills and knowledge of the law. It shows you are confident using technology and is a platform to showcase your knowledge, skills and expertise. The Open University encourages its law students to write for the Open Justice blog as a way of highlighting to potential employers the experiences and skills gained through participating in Open Justice.
Social media etiquette
Many recruiters search candidates’ online profiles, it is important to ensure your online presence represents the ‘best’ version of you and doesn’t jeopardize your employment prospects. Inappropriate comments, compromising photographs or over exaggerating experience should be avoided. Comments and content made online are preserved for posterity and sharable with a global audience. Keep your personal and professional accounts separate and ensure you have the correct privacy settings to enable you to control and restrict access to your information. But remember whenever you are engaging in social media think before your post! ‘What goes online, stays online’!
Social media allows you to share your experiences and interact easily with other legal professionals but it’s essential to remember your professional obligations. The SRA code has strict rules about client care and confidentiality. If, for example, you disclose information about a case you have worked on in a law clinic you will breach client confidentiality. Personal integrity is central to the practice of law, you need to be aware of how any comments you make may impact on your professional standing. Commenting negatively on other lawyers or on the profession may breach Principle 6 as it may affect public trust and confidence in the legal profession.
You are a law student but do you know the law!
You should be aware of the laws that govern social media. If in a tweet or a post you make a false statement that causes ‘serious harm’ to a person’s reputation it may be libellous under the Defamation Act 2013. If you use photographs or videos without the permission of the author you could be in breach of copyright laws. Knowing the law on social media is both personally and professionally beneficial. Legal professionals regularly deal with digital and social media issues showcasing at an interview your knowledge of social media law is a great opportunity to impress a prospective employer.
Social media platforms provide a great opportunity to connect and network with the legal community however it’s important to remember engaging in these channels is not without risk. Understanding those risks will help you successfully post, tweet and comment to get the rewards offered. ‘Google’ yourself today and see what the internet says about you!