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

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

McPeak, Agnieszka, The Internet Made Me Do It: Reconciling Social Media and Professional Norms for Lawyers, Judges, and Law Professors (May 1, 2019). Idaho Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 2, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3418088

Agnieszka McPeak (Contact Author)

Gonzaga University School of Law ( email )

721 N. Cincinnati Street
Spokane, WA 99220-3528
United States
(800) 986.9585 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.gonzaga.edu/school-of-law/regular-faculty/detail/mcpeak-a

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