“Friending” Your Attorney

I’m doing some catch up on LinkedIn discussion. Know: The Magazine for Paralegals group discussions include this question from Amy:

What do you do when your attorney sends you a Facebook friend request?

One of the new attorneys I work with has sent me a Facebook friend request. What do you guys think? I feel like I can’t turn him down, but then again…not sure that I want one of my bosses on my FB page either. Not that I’m doing anything that is scandalous…just makes me uncomfortable. Any advice??

Most of the advice, quite rightly, is not to friend the attorney. Elona Jouben responded:

I prefer to keep my personal and professional lives separate as much as possible. I don’t even have current non-lawyer co-workers as FB friends. I would tell him in person that you are not comfortable mixing the office w/your personal social media accounts. Telling him in person exemplifies your professionalism, and he has to respect your decision. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to add him to your LinkedIn network. I don’t know if LinkedIn allows you to filter which connections see what activity you have on LI.

(Elona, who usually has good advice on these listserv discussions, is also a contributor to The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology, schedule for release in the next few weeks. Her contribution is a slightly edited version of her Master Thesis for George Washington University, arguing against paralegal regulation.)

Coincidentally, the “Paralegal Jobs and Continuing Education” LinkedIn group discussion board contains a post by Jolene entitled, “How Facebook can ruin your career.”  There are several posts on this blog on this theme already.  Jolene’s post includes a link to an article shared through “Smartbook” originating in the International Business Times,  entitled, “Why Co-workers Don’t Make Good Facebook Friends.” That the SmartBrief intro notes:

If you’re going to “friend” work colleagues on Facebook, then you need to carefully monitor your content to make sure it’s always upbeat and professional — and not something that could hurt your career, writes Jessica Simko. If you do post comments about how you hate your job, for example, the boss could find out. “Many employees talk and gossip on a regular basis. They can’t help themselves,” she writes.

It should be self-evident that the problem is even worse when the “co-worker” is also a supervising attorney.

One possible solution is to have two separate Facebook presences – one personal and one for business. I have an “Empowered Paralegal” presence and a personal presence on Facebook (although I actually seldom do much on either – probably a sign of my age.) Overall though, I recommend simply declining to intertwine the two at all.  Also, please note that, even without the personal/business mixture, a Facebook presence can be detrimental to your career.

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