I stumbled upon an interesting document prepared on behalf of the Law Society of Upper Canada entitled “Online Activity/Social Media Policy” dated September 2010 [the “LSUC Social Media Policy”]. It appears to be a template for law firms with associates and staff that need guidance on accepted or best practices for online activity. Here’s the .pdf link.
I encourage Ontario lawyers, law clerks, and legal staff to read this document carefully and decide how and when they wish to participate online on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
The LSUC Social Media Policy provides examples as to when these guidelines may or may not apply:
The following are some examples when these guidelines might apply.
- Beth, a partner at a firm, participates in an e-mail discussion list hosted by a business professional roundtable, where she can send and receive messages on a wide variety of business topics and interact with current and potential clients.
- Arthur, an associate at a firm, maintains a personal blog that he started as a law student. He has written about law school, classes, his articling experience, and now occasionally comments on his work.
- Greg, a paralegal, regularly reads the Empowered Paralegal blog and occasionally posts comments on the site.
- Susan, a litigation support specialist, has a Twitter account that she uses to update her friends and colleagues on her whereabouts, particularly if she’s working long hours on a case.
The following are some examples where these guidelines do not apply.
- Mark, Nadine, and Lisa have “friended” each other on Facebook and discuss movies and occasionally collaborate in a game of Firmtown. Their profiles identify [Firm name] as their employer but there is no other mention of work.
- Erik has a Twitter account where he provides to his followers updates on the status of his cactus throughout the day.
The last example is by far my favorite:
“Erik has a Twitter account where he provides to his followers updates on the status of his cactus throughout the day”.
I have deliberated throughout the day and have decided to buy a cactus. I shall call him “Erik”.
I have also given serious consideration to rebranding, as suggested by my blawging colleague and Twitter friend (I loathe the phrase “tweep”), George Wallace (Twitter: @foolintheforest) who tweeted/twitted/twittered this today:
However, as every rose has its thorn, so too, every cactus has its…um, spines.
While tweeting about one’s cactus all day may be sufficient to avoid breach of the LSUC Social Media Guidelines, it does seem rather mundane and will not increase your Klout score or Peer Index dramatically. I fear that it will likely end up getting you unfollowed or blocked en masse. It also will not guarantee you safety or security, either online or offline. For example, one could suffer cactus spine injuries or develop cactus dermatitis. Then there’s the risk of criminal prosecution in Arizona if you vandalize (cactus plugging), remove or traffic in Arizona’s state flower, the Saguaro or giant cactus over four feet tall.
The worst, however, is death by cactus:
David Grundman and his roommate James Joseph Suchcochi packed their guns and took off for the desert near Lake Pleasant back in 1982. Snopes.com tells us Grundman had great success shooting up a small saguaro, which quickly thumped down dead.
So he went for a bigger one. A 26-foot saguaro that was estimated at 100 years old.
The cactus was apparently not amused by being shot up – and one of its 4-foot arms tumbled down, crushing and killing Grundman.
What a way to make history.
While Snopes also mentions tales of animal revenge, the site says Grundman’s is the only documented case of a plant getting back at a human.”
By all means, tweet only about cactuses (or cacti), but remember the words of the conservative political pundit Charles Krauthammer:
In the middle ages, people took potions for their ailments. In the 19th century they took snake oil. Citizens of today’s shiny, technological age are too modern for that. They take antioxidants and extract of cactus instead.