SRA publishes new social media guidance for solicitors

26 September, 2017

New guidance has been published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in recent days in relation to “inappropriate behaviour” on social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

It follows news that the regulator has experienced a ‘significant increase’ in the number of complaints received in relation to solicitors whose social media communications have ‘fallen short’ of expected standards.

The SRA has effectively issued a reminder to solicitors, warning them that they must uphold the same level of standards on social media as they do in any other walk of life.

In a recent statement, the regulator warned that “social media by its nature tends to encourage instant communication without the necessary forethought.”

It said that solicitors needed to be “aware of the content” they are posting and the constant need “for professionalism.”

“This is especially true if you are participating in online discussion (whether this be on Facebook, Twitter, other social media, forums, blogs, etc) and you have identified yourself as, or are known to be, a solicitor,” the SRA added.

Specifically, it said that social media communications of any kind penned by solicitors should never feature “statements which are derogatory, harassing, hurtful, puerile, plainly inappropriate, or perceived to be threatening, causing the recipient alarm and distress.”

Solicitors were also warned to watch out for privacy settings – which cannot always be relied upon, with some social media posts shared in the public domain liable to ‘going viral’ or attracting mass attention on a far-reaching scale very quickly.

“Even if you do not identify yourself as a solicitor, anonymity is not guaranteed; material which you post under a pseudonym may still be traced back to you or you may be identified as a solicitor if you include a photograph of yourself,” the SRA said.

The regulator’s new social media guidance can be found here.

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