California Lawyers Association

Social Media Policy

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Date: November 7, 2017

A. Preamble / Policy Statement

These are the official guidelines for social media use on behalf of the California Lawyers Association (“Association”). The Association engages in education and outreach to the legal community. Accordingly, the Association recognizes that social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and other sites, are valuable tools to facilitate engagement and to disseminate information. If you are a designated Association poster or contributing to any kind of social media on behalf of or in the name of the Association, these guidelines are for you. We expect all who participate in social media on behalf of the Association to understand and follow these guidelines, and to be aware that they will continually evolve as social media evolves. Your use of social media is guided by this Policy and any social media platform’s specific Terms of Use.

B. Who Can Use the Association’s Social Media Accounts to Speak for Their Section?

This Policy applies to Section members designated by each Section’s Chair as “Trusted Posters” to post content and comments on behalf of and in the name of their Section. Trusted Posters who will speak in an official capacity on behalf of their Section must acknowledge in writing that they have read, and will adhere to these guidelines.

Any Section member or member of the public may use social media to post new comments or comment on existing threads in their own names.

Association staff liaisons authorized by the Executive Director may post social media communications on behalf of a Section or Committee to which they are liaison. The liaison must confine him or herself to posting only information specific to the Section or Committee to which they are assigned as liaison and only to the social media accounts specific to that entity.

C. Who Can Use the Association’s Social Media Accounts to Speak for The Association?

Only those officially designated by the Association’s Executive Director, the President, chair, or his or her designees may use social media to speak on behalf of the Association itself.

D. How Can New Social Media Sites be Created?

Sections, with the approval of their Executive Committee, may create new social media accounts to address specific topics. A group administrator must be appointed to oversee the page/group, and the Association’s Technology Officer must be given “administrative” rights and the user name, password, and any other relevant information so the site can be maintained by the Association. The Association reserves the right to remove any social media pages that violate this policy.

Committee or Interest Group social media pages should be named with the committee name first, followed by the Section name and the Association name, i.e., Technology, Internet, & Privacy: IP Law Section of the California Lawyers’ Association. The purpose of the policy is to address the dilution of and confusion with the Section’s primary account and the Association’s primary account.

E. General Guidelines

The Association’s social media sites exist for the exchange of substantive, topical information by, between, and for Association members and others in the legal community. We expect all who participate in social media on behalf of the Association to be trained to understand and to follow these guidelines.

  1. All posters are reminded that they are to abide by the principles of the California Rules of Professional Conduct and this policy is complementary to the Rules.
  2. Advertising not related to the Association, or any types of commercial solicitation are prohibited. Notwithstanding the foregoing, posts identifying and thanking sponsors are permissible insofar as they are directly related to the activity or event being sponsored.
  3. When posting on behalf of the Section or Association, a Trusted Poster should post neutral content and avoid the impression of offering commentary on a subject. Nothing in this policy, however, limits or prevents a Trusted Poster from offering such commentary when the post is clearly not being made by a Section or the Association (e.g. posted in the person’s own name).
  4. The FTC’s truth in advertising rules require that individuals who endorse products or services for the companies they work for or as part of a sponsored campaign, or who receive any sort of compensation, including a discount on conference fees or the like, must disclose their affiliation. There is no special language required; a simple statement such as “I am a volunteer for the IP Section, #ad” will usually be effective.
  5. Misrepresentations made about the Association by the media or analysts should be brought to the attention of the Executive Director or the Director’s designated representative. Do not outright delete or suppress such postings if they are valid points to consider. Let the comments stand. If you see misrepresentations made about the Association by the media, you may point that out. Always do so with respect and with the facts. If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that party. Avoid arguments; it may earn traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don’t try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates.
  6. Quickly address any inappropriate messages or misuse. Such inappropriate content includes spam, advertising, offensive statements, inaccurate information, foul language, or unconstructive criticism of the Association or anyone in the Association community. Feel free to delete these posts. As a general guideline, if you have any question as to whether something should be removed, please contact the ______________________. Please notify the _______________________________ when you do remove seriously inappropriate content.
  7. A healthy dialog with constructive criticism can be useful but refrain from engaging in dialogue that could disparage colleagues, competitors, or critics. Social media can be used in as many productive ways as it can be misused.
  8. The public in general, and Association’s employees and members, reflect a diverse set of customs, values and points of view. Don’t say anything contradictory or in conflict with the Association website. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive comments, defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.) but also proper consideration of privacy and of topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as actively promoting a political or religious view.
  9. Do research to find others blogging, authoring or tweeting about your topic. Evaluate your contribution for accuracy and truthfulness before posting. Be accurate, truthful, and without factual error. Provide hyperlinks to all sources.

F. Use of Intellectual Property

The use of the Association’s logos and trademarks on social networking sites is limited to official Association sites.

Trusted posters are expected to use social media without infringing the rights or property of others. It is critical that you show proper respect for the laws governing copyright and fair use of copyrighted material owned by others, including the Association’s own copyrights and brands. You should never quote more than short excerpts of someone else’s work, and always attribute such work to the original author/source. It is good general practice to link to others’ work rather than reproduce it.

Identify any copyrighted or borrowed material with citations and links. If someone accuses you of posting something improper (such as their copyrighted material or a defamatory comment about them), deal with it quickly – better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action.

G. Social Media Tips

The following tips are not mandatory, but will contribute to the successful use of social media.

  1. The key to social media success is to stay on top of your sites. Any social media site will require daily monitoring. Establishing and then deserting a social media outpost could reflect poorly on the Association. The Trusted Poster should have the responsibility of monitoring social media channels daily, and backup administrators/monitors should be designated so there is no gap in the monitoring.
  2. Encourage discussion by posting quality content and questions. Keep a friendly and professional tone when posting updates and having conversations with other members.
  3. It’s a conversation. Talk to your readers like you would talk to real people. Consider content that’s open-ended and invites response. Encourage comments.
  4. Always add value and insight, attempt to educate, solve a problem. Write stuff people value–you should help members. Be thought-provoking and build a sense of community. If your content improves knowledge or skills; helps people do their jobs; solves problems; or builds better understanding of the Association – you are adding value.
  5. Quality matters. Use a spell-checker.
  6. In order to foster a sense of community within the legal community and between the Sections, and in order to develop a robust social media presence and following, posts may use an informal and lighthearted tone and engage in good- natured banter, humor, and discussions that are not directly related to the law.
  7. This space is fast-moving and ever-evolving. Read more than you write. Ask questions. Build relationships. That’s what our work is all about.
  8. The speed of being able to publish your thoughts is both a great feature and a great downfall of social media. The time to edit or reflect must be self-imposed. If in doubt over a post, or if something does not feel right, either let it sit and look at it again before publishing it, or ask someone else to look at it first.
  9. Receiving a negative comment about the Association ultimately provides an opportunity to respond to the negative comment and reframe it in a positive light. Remember: more often than not, the negative commenters are trying to provoke a response. Check with ________________ if you are unsure how to respond.
  10. Software applications such as Tweetdeck and Seesmic can help you organize your use and monitoring of Twitter. You can set up Google Blog Alerts by keyword. Also, services like Social Mention allow you to monitor multiple social media services at once.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Effectively managing and protecting the Association’s confidential information is a critical responsibility for all members. The nature of your position may provide access to confidential or proprietary information. Remember to respect and maintain the confidentiality entrusted to you. Do not divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details about other people, or other confidential material. Do not speak or otherwise imply that you are acting on behalf of the Association or that you have an official Association opinion unless authorized to do so. Do not use social media channels to discuss the Association’s legal matters, litigation, its financial performance, or other confidential information unless specifically authorized by the Association leadership.

You should respect the privacy rights of Association members and must not disclose information about vendors and business partners without obtaining their permission. Do not post photographs or images of any members, vendors, or business partners on any social media site without having their express permission to do so.

H. Transparency

  1. The Association does not pay bloggers or anyone else outside of the Association to write endorsements or create fake or misleading social media communications.
  2. The Association does not purchase inbound links, participate in link bartering exchanges or use the promise of inbound links to try to convince individuals to create positive social media communications about or on behalf of the Association.
  3. The Association supports open communication; however, open communication must be balanced. It is contrary to an open and thoughtful internal deliberation process to post drafts in an area of the Association website or elsewhere that is accessible to more than the immediate group drafting the document. In general, a group drafting a document should refrain from posting the internal Section or Committee deliberations, including drafts, in any public online forum or format.
  4. If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly. If you choose to modify an earlier post, make it clear that you have done so.


Failure to abide by these guidelines and the Association’s [Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics or other policies] could put the Association and your position at risk. While we trust that you will live and breathe these policies, if, for any reason an incident occurs that violates the policy, the Association expects you to bring the issue to the [Board’s?] attention immediately so a resolution can be found.

Failure to comply with these social media policies may result in:

A. Removal of content.
B. Withdrawal, without notice, of access to information and/or information resources.
C. Discontinuance of unauthorized social media accounts.
D. Other disciplinary action in accordance with Association bylaws and policies.

I have read this social media policy and agree to abide by its terms.

Signed: ___________________________________________
Date: ___________________________________________
Name of Trusted Poster: ______________________________
Section: __________________________________________

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