Online Presence for Law Students

Social Media is here to stay and as a conscientious student, you should begin to think about what your online presence says about you and how you can manage your online presence so that you are consistently presenting a polished, professional image in every place you are marketed, be it in person or online.

While the overwhelming majority of employers probably won’t admit on record that they check an applicant’s online persona, anecdotally, it seems as though most employers are doing it. Remember, legal employers answer to their clients and have an obligation to provide attorneys that will professionally represent the client. Additionally, legal employers make a large investment in the recruitment, hiring and training of attorneys and understandably seek out assurance that the candidate they choose will give them a positive return on investment. It may seem like an unfair invasion of your privacy, but from the employer’s perspective it is a tool that allows the employer to quickly determine whether or not you can exercise discretion, among other things. And, while you probably won’t be offered a position because of what an employer finds out about you online, you could easily be excluded from consideration based on your online presence.

Tips for Social Media

  • Avoid radical views (blogs and postings) and any post that demonstrates impropriety, poor judgment, illegality, gossip, discretion (or lack thereof).
  • Understand that guilty by association is alive and well in the world of social media. So, the picture of your friend on your Facebook page doing something unethical, illegal or questionable, implicates you even if you didn’t participate or weren’t even there.
  • Be diligent in monitoring your online presence. Work to remove incorrect or inappropriate content, where ever it is found and be accountable for anything negative. This means you must be prepared to discuss and explain unflattering content during an interview without being defensive.
  • Assume anything you can find about you online is also discoverable by the employer.
  • Set your Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and other social media pages to private and be sure your profile picture is professional.
  • Remind your friends that your online image is very important and do not tolerate others that post compromising pictures or comments about you.
  • Be aware that on some sites others can tag you in photos (which may show up in search engine results) and that your comments to others’ posts may be discoverable, especially if your friends’ pages are not private.
  • Be very familiar with the ever changing privacy settings on each social networking site you use.

Tips to Help You Use Social Media to Your Advantage

  • Be sure the information on your professional online profile matches the information on your paper resume. Even small variations can raise a potential employer’s suspicions.
  • Use your professional social media networks to easily stay in touch with professionals you have met at continuing legal education courses, bar luncheons and in other ways; and to stay in touch with your law school colleagues – these people will become your professional colleagues and trusted advisors in the years to come.
  • Manage your friends lists and keep business and pleasure absolutely separate.

Tips for Professional Emails

  • Be sure your email address is appropriate, "coolguy@email.com" is not impressive to an employer. Ideally, “yourname@email.com” is the best choice of email address.
  • Email does not mean informal:
    • If you would ordinarily use a person’s last name in a letter, use the last name in the email
    • Do not use abbreviations or slang or “text speak;” always use proper grammar
  • Proof, proof, proof read each and every email, especially the subject line which often is not reviewed by your spell check function; NEVER spell a person’s name wrong.
  • Be very careful to send the right email to the right person.
  • Do not forget the attachments; nothing says inability to pay attention to details like forgetting to attach the documents promised.