The Internet Made Me Do It: Reconciling Social Media and Professional Norms for Lawyers, Judges, and Law Professors
29 Pages Posted: 11 Jul 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
Social media platforms operate under their own social order. Design decisions and policies set by platforms steer user behavior. Additionally, members of online communities set informal expectations that form a unique set of norms. These social media norms—like oversharing, disinhibition, and anonymity—become common online, even though similar conduct might be shunned in the real world.
For lawyers, judges, and law professors, a different set of norms apply to both their online and offline conduct. Legal ethics rules, codes of judicial conduct, workplace policies, and general professionalism expectations dictate behavior for legal professionals. Collectively, these professional norms set a higher bar—one that fundamentally clashes with ever-evolving social media norms. This conflict between social media and professional norms must be reconciled in order for lawyers, judges, and law professors to avoid online missteps.
This essay examines the clash between the norms of social media conduct with the constraints of professional norms. By doing so, it hopes to help lawyers, judges, and law professors reconcile their real-world roles with their online behavior and offers some guidance for maintaining professionalism across the board.
Keywords: Social Media, Ethics, Norms, Professionalism, Twitter, Facebook
JEL Classification: K10, K39, K40, O33, O35, O39, I23
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