On the 2nd Day of Social Media, My SIG Leaders Gave To Me...

The LMA Social Media Social Media SIG's 2nd Day of Social Media 2013


Hi Everybody!

On the 2nd Day of Social Media, Your SIG leaders Gave To You...               2 Social Slipups!

It feels kind of odd to finish a title about slipups with an exclamation point, but I can't help it. I'm excited about our 12 Days project!

I also find it interesting that I get the "Day" with "Slipups" in the title! Hmm...

No, really, we didn't have to twist each others' arms when choosing which "Days" we wanted to write, so I'm just teasing.

Let's Get To It! 

When we discuss Slipups, we mean gaffes, mistakes, errors and the like on Social Media. We've all seen or heard about them.

  • Some are bad.
  • Some are really bad.
  • Some are funny.
  • Some...well, not so much

2 Things To Remember:

  1. The severity of the Slipup is in the eye of the beholder, in this case, everyone but you. This means that even though you think something you're saying or doing via Social Media is perfectly acceptable, this doesn't guarantee everyone else will feel that way.
  2. You need to plan ahead. It makes sense to sit down with someone, or some people, to discuss as many of the scenarios as possible ahead of time so you are prepared to react if it happens.

What could those be? In keeping with my "2nd Day" theme, here are 2 for you:

  1. They could be something inappropriate posted by anyone in your firm.
  2. They could be a crisis connected to your firm, having nothing to do with Social Media, but utilizing Social Media to help communicate with all of your target audiences.

2 Examples of Legal Profession Social Slipups:

1.  Reed Smith Partner's F-Bomb Directed Toward @SCOTUSBlog: 

Background: Reed Smith Commercial Real Estate Partner Steven Regan thought he was directing his tweet to the US Supreme Court, but was actually sending it to the Twitter handle linked to an independent blog, SCOTUSBlog, that covers Supreme Court decisions. In this case, Mr. Regan was not happy about The Supreme Court's decision to hear challenges to Environmental Protection Agency regulations related to greenhouse gas emissions.

  • He Tweeted: "@SCOTUSblog - Don't screw up this like [Affordable Care Act]. No such thing as greenhouse gas. Carbon is necessary for life."
  • @SCOTUSblog replied via Tweet: "Intelligent life?"
  • To that, Regan offered an angry "Go f@ck yourself and die."
  • The rest, as they say, is history!

Lessons To Be Learned? 


  1. Know to whom you are Tweeting. Do your research before you take off on someone for doing something you don't like. Click through to their profile to see who they really are, and if it is worth your time. This is a good practice when communicating with anyone in any situation. Click through for a few seconds and get to know who they are. Be informed.
  2. When your emotions are high, step away from the keyboard.


  1. Admit your mistake with humility. Don't think you have to go the distance to protect your pride.
  2. If an apology is necessary, offer one sincerely, and show you are human in the way you communicate.


 Perhaps Steven Regan could have humbled himself a bit, then poked fun at his gaffe by saying: "I'm really sorry for the mistake...too much caffeine this morning. The firm has ordered a crate of decaf just for me!"

2.  The Clifford Chance Memo:

Background:Per the blog, Above The Law, a memo titled "Presentation Tips For Women" was distributed by a female member of the Women’s Committee to all women associates across the U.S. offices of Clifford Chance. 

 Above The Law summarized some of the most controversial parts of the memo:

  • Don’t giggle; Don’t squirm; Don’t tilt your head.
  • Think Lauren Bacall, not Marilyn Monroe.
  • Practice hard words.
  • Watch out for the urinal position.
  • No one heard Hillary the day she showed cleavage.

Lessons To Be Learned?


  1. If you're going to put something in writing, which means it can be passed around the world in a nano-second, and even if you're only going to speak the words, which can also be recorded and shared with ease, do what you can in advance to make sure those words will not be misinterpreted. You can never be 100% sure they won't be misunderstood, but ask yourself whether they come across as sexist, political, religious, or biased in any way, shape or form? If you can answer yes to any of these, then you might want to think twice about the need to publish such words. If that is the tone and brand you and your firm want to represent, then go right ahead. If it is not, then think long and hard about what you can do to avoid controversy by communicating your message another way.
  2. Are you presenting the opposing opinion at the same time you are taking an unusual or controversial stance, or making the case why this viewpoint is important to communicate at this time? If you can answer no to either of these questions, then you need to know there might be consequences such as those we have seen with this memo that made the rounds.


  1. Acknowledge the seemingly controversial words, and humbly show respect to those viewpoints that might be at odds with the original intent. Nothing irritates people more than firms and other brands that bristle in their response and act defensively. It's like adding fuel to a fire that is already a bit out of control.
  2. Don't patronize the dissenters. Apologize to those inside and outside of the firm who were offended, and make it clear you will do whatever it takes to offer a more comprehensive view of the situation. Be genuine in your response. Don't be rebotic.


Perhaps Clifford Chance could have said:

"Thank you very much for bringing this to our attention. This was advice being offered to our professionals that was intended to help them perform at the top of their game, but might not have been delivered in the best manner. We have discussed this, and are happy to announce that something very positive has come out of this. We have formed a committee of Partners, Associates, Management and staff, as well as a few clients, with male and female representation from each of those groups, and are coming up with a series of training sessions that will better meet the needs of all of our people.We feel this will be a much better representation of what we stand for at Clifford Chance, which we summarize in our 8 Clifford Chance Principles, which all revolve around becoming the most professional lawyers and staff we can be in order to fully serve the needs of our clients and communities." 

2 Professionals Contribute Their Crisis Communications Tips:

In November, our Social Media SIG hosted one of our monthly webinars titled: Crisis Communications & Social Media. Be Aware. Be Prepared. Be Proactive. We encourage you to take a little time and watch that webinar as I talked to our guests, Abbie Fink and John Hellerman, about the need for enlightened crisis communications preparedness and response within law firms given this age of Social Media.

Although I think you should watch the webinar, I will share some tips our professionals offered:

1.  HMA's Abbie Fink contributed this during our webinar: 

Abbie Fink's Suggestions For Social Media Crisis Communications

2. Hellerman Baretz's John Hellerman contributed this during our webinar:


So as not to make this post the size of War and Peace, I now invite you to add your Social Media Crisis Communications advice and counsel to the Comments section of this post. This will help us build more powerful resources for our members and guests.

In case you missed yesterday, which was The 1st Day of Social Media here at the Social Media SIG, Lindsay Griffiths gave us:

On The 1st Day of Social Media, Your SIG Leaders Gave To You....

If you missed us last year (I can't imagine!) you may also want to check our 2012 12 Days of Social Media. You can find them right here!

Don't forget. The 12 days of Social Media are just part of what you get when you're an LMA Social Media SIG member. We host regular Social Media webinars with experts inside and outside of the legal profession. As a member of the Social Media SIG, these posts and invitations will be sent to you automatically via the Groups ediscussion Forum.

To get full benefits, and advance notice of our events, please join:

Happy Holidays from your Social Media SIG Leaders! We look forward to sharing the next 10 Days with you, so check back tomorrow to see what your SIG leaders will bring you on The 3rd Day of Social Media!

Sociallly Yours,

Lindsay Griffiths, International Lawyers Network
Laura Toledo, Bowman and Brooke
Gail Lamarche, Henderson & Franklin
Lance Godard, JD Supra
Nancy Myrland, Myrland Marketing & Social Media

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