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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Law Professors and Social Media

As someone who writes and teaches in workplace privacy, I have been thinking a lot about the role of social media in our workplace.  I have been on Facebook for a long time, but I keep it entirely personal, and do not become Facebook "friends" with colleagues.  Since joining the academy, however, I have received increasing numbers of "friend" requests from people I meet at conferences.  I recognize that many others use Facebook as solely or largely professional. 

I felt (whether true or not) that I was missing out on academic conversations that were taking place on social media.  In order to try to remedy the situation, I recently joined Twitter, (#ProfVSchwartz) and have decided to use Twitter in a purely professional manner.  I am using Twitter to be in touch with colleagues, not with my outside friends, just as I am using Facebook to be in touch with my outside friends, not my colleagues.  It remains to be seen whether this balance will work for me.

Do you use social media?  Do you feel it is becoming necessary in order to stay on top of the most current conversations?  Perhaps my experience is unique because the sub-set of IP professors use social media more than others?  What sort of balance have you struck between maintaining your privacy, and keeping up with social media?

Posted by Victoria Schwartz on April 17, 2014 at 12:13 PM | Permalink


I use Twitter and LinkedIn in for professional purposes. Over at Business Law Prof. Blog I have a list of business law professors on Twitter. http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2013/11/business-law-professors-on-twitter.html

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Apr 17, 2014 3:06:41 PM

I started out doing exactly what you did with Facebook -- keeping it only for family and non-lawprofs, and using LinkedIn for business contacts. The problem was that almost no other law profs do this (unlike practicing lawyers, most of whom seem to be on LinkedIn), and I would have had to "reject" multiple friend requests, so I caved.

But there's a way to deal with this, which is Facebook's "lists" feature, turned on about a year or so after I started using it. You can select which groups see which posts. Obviously the risk of a mistake exists, so generally I try to keep my FB posts noncontroversial.

I'm new to Twitter, but find it a poor way to have a dialog. It's great for one-way communication, either others to you or you to your followers (whoever they are). Less good for conversation.

Posted by: Bruce Boyden | Apr 17, 2014 2:24:58 PM

I think social media platforms are an invaluable resource for professors. I write extensively on the impact of social media on the law ( I'm the author of 3 books, including "The Lawyer's Guide to Social Networking" -West 2010, and "The Social Media Litigation Practice Guide" - West 2014), and I teach course on social media and the law at SMU Dedman School of Law and Texas A & M University School of Law. It's a great way to connect and share information with colleagues. With students, I have a rule: only accept friend requests and LinkedIn connection invitations after the semester is over. While the online relationship won't earn a student any points,I prefer to keep an appropriate distance during the student-teacher relationship.

Posted by: John Browning | Apr 17, 2014 1:32:12 PM

I became a Twitter convert (professional purposes only--my handle is @ProfDodson) after watching a AALS panel with Mary Dudziak lauding its benefits. Based on the intervening months, I think it's been a strong net positive. Lots of relevant content for me as a consumer, and I believe I am reaching new audiences with my own work.

Posted by: Scott Dodson | Apr 17, 2014 12:54:13 PM

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