Can having a Facebook group cause a conflict of interest? Let’s say you have a group called “Father’s Rights” on Facebook. There are people in the group talking and interacting, asking and answering questions. Do you have to search every member of the group to make sure you are not speaking to someone who is represented by the attorney on the other side? This is a very interesting dilemma.
This is something I would have to ask about because I really don’t know. I believe the answer would vary by state. Regardless, it comes down to how you answer the question.
How you answer the question
If you give personalized legal information to a specific person or client, that would probably become an issue. However, you already know, that is never a good idea anyway.
Someone in the group says: “My wife took my kids. I want them back. What do I do?”
Your response: “Well, there is obviously a lot of different things that could happen.” Then you tell a story. We had a client whose wife moved from Florida to New York and took their daughter. What we had to do for that client is file a petition and they had to come back down. Then this happened and that happened.
But, we had another client who took the kids and moved to a whole different country. To do that we had to do this, this, this, and this. You are telling stories about what you have done for other clients and you are making that clear. You are not giving specific legal advice and you end it with obviously every case is different, but these are a few examples that I have seen and the options that are available.
The other thing you could do is you could say if you want to ask specifically send me a direct message because obviously, we don’t want to talk about your care in public. Then from there, you can do a conflict check and all that type of stuff.
Do you need to do a conflict check before letting them in the group?
I don’t believe there is any reason to run a conflict check before letting someone in your Facebook group. If you create a video, you cannot control who watches the video. If you create a YouTube channel, you can’t control who watches the videos. You have no control over who reads your blog posts. Honestly, I am not even sure you could be sure of who you are allowing in the Facebook group. It is the internet and it is not that hard to fake your identification if you want to bad enough. Of course, if you are concerned, you can ask an ethics attorney.
Asking the experts
I talked to Angela Lang a great deal about this. She does a ton of stuff with social media. My interview with her is on my YouTube channel. This is a topic we talked about a lot. She said the reason lawyers don’t do social media marketing is that they are afraid of the Bar. They’re afraid of what’s going to happen. I mean there is nothing that’s going to stop you from getting on camera and talking about the law and kind of like telling stories and stuff like that.
That just about covers it. Just do not give personal information and use common sense. Be smart and listen to your instincts. If you feel like someone is trying to push you into a corner, push back. Just say, this is not the place, but we can set up an appointment to talk about your personal situation if you would like to.