Some lawyers get weird on Twitter, but it’s still a great tool

Twitter can be fun. You can tweet a cool meme, thoughts about “Game of Thrones” (no leaks, tho!) or links to informative, high-brow items such as “Hilarious T-Shirt Fails You Have To See To Believe.”

If you’re a lawyer, though, you have to be a wee bit more careful. Tweeting a meme? That’s cool. Tweeting about a political figure? That’s dicey.

Take Frank Aquila, a partner with the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, who got angry over a comment by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. He told her, on Twitter, to “Rot in Hell You B!tch.”

He apologized ...

But …

He’s known as the lawyer who called Sanders a pretty awful, low-brow name.

At least he didn’t lose his job. Other lawyers have been fired because of their tweets, such as Sarah Herr, a Kansas court research attorney who called a former attorney general who was under investigation “a douchebag” in a tweet.

It’s not just these nasty, inappropriate outbursts that lawyers need to be worried about. Social media experts note that lawyers have to be aware of how tweets could possibly impact their professional code of conduct. For instance, you could potentially violate the code if you tweet about an ongoing case or a clients’ behavior.

While not doing so may seem like common sense, lawyers may not even realize when they are treading on thin ice. A social media panel at a law conference a few years back noted:

“We know that lawyers can be chatty. They love to discuss interesting cases they’re working on, love to swap wars stories, and love to pad their professional credentials by revealing their prestigious clients and important matters. Many of those disclosures have traditionally been made in the course of private, oral conversations among professional peers.”

Of course, social media ­— particularly Twitter — has changed that. Again, from the panel conference: “There is a vastly diminished expectation of privacy in social networking, and once words are posted on the internet they may be public forever—as the saying goes, Google’s memory is infinite.”

And just when you thought there was better insight and rules of engagement when it comes to Twitter and its use, along come lawyers who continue to do strange things with it. Take Michael Avenatti, the fiery former lawyer for porn star Stormy Daniels who’s facing all sorts of legal problems stemming from alleged unethical behavior.

In tweets, he’s attacked Donald Trump, Nike, puppies …That last one? It’s a joke. But he’s used Twitter as a platform to fight allegations against him — one of which is that he embezzled money from a disabled client.

He’s not alone when it comes to attorneys using Twitter in such an aggressive fashion. Given that many lawyers tend to be combative and argumentative, it’s little wonder some use the social media tool in this fashion. It beats using a blow-horn on a street corner.

Look at George Conway, an attorney and husband of Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s White House counselor. He’s attacked his wife’s boss often on Twitter, arguing he’s not fit for office.

“Trump violated that oath and put his own vanity and self-interest above that of the nation and people whose laws and Constitution he swore to faithfully execute and uphold,” Conway tweeted. “If that’s not impeachable, nothing is.”

These kinds of brash, bold statements are like lobbing bombs — and they’re not limited to the twitter-verse. Major news outlets routinely report on them. They can become national news.

It’s why social media is so alluring — and fraught. But Twitter does a lot more than just offer lawyers a new and powerful pulpit. For young lawyers, Twitter can offer a wealth of information about the profession and how it’s evolving.

Many of the nation’s most progressive and innovative attorneys have twitter handles, and they share their thoughts and views often. Kevin O’Keefe is but one example. He’s the CEO and founder of LexBlog.com, a worldwide publishing network.

As it notes: “Today, LexBlog has over 22,000 bloggers within its network, including over half of the nearly 1,000 blogs from the United States’ top 200 law firms.”

How about Nora Riva Bergman, whose Twitter description is thus: “I’m a lawyer & law firm coach. I help lawyers earn more, stress less & have fun in the process. You CAN push past your fears & create the law practice YOU want.”

Twitter is evolving — yes. One needs to be careful — yes again. But it’s a great place to learn — and post cool memes, such as these.