The Social Media Guidelines of the Washington State Bar Association
apply to this network of members of the Labor & Employment Law
for the Washington State Bar
Association and Its Entities
Social Media is an important way for an association to interact
with its members and the public as well as to facilitate
member-to-member dialog. Social networks (such as, but not limited
to, blogging, microblogging, networking sites, and social media)
offer opportunities for outreach, information sharing, and
The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) supports the use of
these Internet technologies to increase member engagement, build
community, and improve access to information, resulting in greater
value to our members and the public. These tools are another method
to communicate with a variety of audiences but may not be
appropriate in all instances nor for all kinds of
The following guidelines apply to WSBA volunteers, sections,
committees, boards, divisions, panels, and related programs or
groups (“Entities”) wishing to use WSBA’s name and/or graphic
identity (e.g., logo) in conjunction with the creation or
maintenance of a social media presence that identifies the Entity
as being sponsored by, administered by, or affiliated with
Administering the social media
Each WSBA Entity desiring a social media presence will work with
the Entity’s staff liaison/contact to determine the Entity’s
objectives and the proper social media venues for the Entity.
The Entity will create a plan for its social media presence, to
include the social media tools they desire to use, the objective of
the use, and plans for generating regular and relevant
content. The WSBA staff liaison will establish the
page/account for the Entity. The Entity shall work with the
staff liaison to generate content updates to the
page/account. The WSBA reserves the right to remove any
content deemed inappropriate or not in keeping with these
guidelines. Entities are responsible, in collaboration with
their WSBA liaison/contact and all those individuals participating
in the social network, for complying with these guidelines.
Guidelines for social
Be professional, respectful, and discreet in your online dialog.
Represent WSBA and our profession well. Exercise good
judgment. Entities and individuals who fail to do so, or who
fail to comply with these guidelines, may forfeit the right to
participate in social networking activities sponsored by
WSBA. In some circumstances, inappropriate use of social
media may subject you to discipline for failing to adhere to
applicable Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC), as well as civil or
criminal liability and penalties, as warranted.
1. Be responsible. You are
personally responsible for the material you post. Carefully
consider content; what you publish will be widely accessible for
some time and, in some cases, indefinitely. All statements must be
true and not misleading. Do not post private information
about yourself or others – keep the posts relevant. Adhere to
all statutory prescriptions and Rules of Professional Conduct
governing the privacy of individuals and confidential information
of your clients.
2. Be upfront; identify
yourself. Your honesty – or dishonesty – will be quickly
noticed in the social networking environment. Use your real name,
and, if relevant, your role or interest in the topic discussed.
When appropriate, make it clear you are speaking for yourself and
not on WSBA’s behalf.
3. Be civil and
respectful. It’s alright to disagree with others, but do not
use defamatory, libelous, or damaging innuendo; abusive,
threatening, offensive, obscene, explicit, or racist language; or
post illegal material.
4. Be quick to correct an
error. If you make a mistake, admit it. Quickly provide the
correct information. If appropriate, modify an earlier post to make
it clear that you have corrected an error.
5. Keep it relevant/add
value. Write about what you know. Information can add value
if it contributes to the legal community’s knowledge or skills,
improves the legal system or public understanding of the legal
system, or builds a sense of community.
6. Follow copyright and fair use
laws. Always give people proper credit for their work. Make
sure you have the right to use material with attribution before
publishing. It is a good practice to link to others’ work rather
than reproducing it on your site. When in doubt as to the
proprietary nature of material, don’t use it. Recognize the
potential professional and legal consequences of any failure to
follow applicable laws governing the use of others’
7. Protect proprietary and client
information. Do not discuss or misuse proprietary or
confidential information, and follow all professional and ethical
rules governing the disclosure of information shared with you by
clients. When in doubt, leave it out.
8. Endorsements of certain
political positions are contrary to GR 12.1. The activities
of WSBA are defined by Washington Supreme Court rules (GR 12.1),
and those rules apply to social networking activity, as well as a
variety of other activities. As a membership organization, WSBA
needs to avoid even the appearance that it directly or
a. Takes positions on
issues concerning the politics or social positions of foreign
b. Takes positions on
political or social issues which do not relate to or affect the
practice of law or the administration of justice; or
c. Supports or opposes,
in an election, candidates for public office.
9. Comply with Washington rules
governing lawyer conduct. Comply with all legal
restrictions and obligations governing professional conduct,
particularly those regulating communication and advertising (RPC
Title 7), when posting content to any social network, including
postings by an Entity.
10. Do not violate antitrust
laws. Antitrust laws prohibit postings that encourage or
facilitate agreements between WSBA members of different firms
concerning the following, as they pertain to legal services:
prices, discounts, or terms or conditions of sale; salaries;
profits, profit margins, or cost data; market shares, sales
territories, or markets; allocation of customers or suppliers; or
any other term or condition related to competition.
11. Abide by the social network’s
rules. By joining a particular social network, you agree to
Using the WSBA’s name and/or
WSBA Entities may incorporate the WSBA’s name and/or logo into
their social media identity with prior approval from WSBA’s Deputy
Director for External Relations or his/her designee. To create
consistency and community on the Web, the WSBA has established
standard logo templates, disclaimers, and naming conventions. The
Entity must work with their assigned staff liaison from WSBA to
coordinate the development of the social network graphic and other
All Entities must provide direct links on any social media page
back to the “main” WSBA social media page.
WSBA does not actively monitor these sites for inappropriate
postings. If an inappropriate posting is brought to the
attention of WSBA, however, WSBA will take appropriate action to
enforce these guidelines.
Approved by WSBA Board of Governors, December 4,