Lawyers: Don’t Be Sideswiped By Social Media


When taking on a new client, one of the first things that is done during the interview/discovery process is asking your client about his/her social media accounts and habits. It’s good to be aware of what they have online, as this can easily be used as evidence if the case goes to trial.

Your new client may or may not be totally forthcoming with this information; your hope is that they disclose as much as possible so you can help them. But what if they’re not completely aware of what’s online about them, either posted by others or an account created years ago that has been long forgotten?

This is where a strong social media background check is needed. Utilizing such a service can help you uncover any public facing online content surrounding an individual or group of individuals. What does a social media background check tell you?

    • A full scope of your client’s social media/online presence – pull any public facing information so you know what’s out there and what may need to be done to “clean up” a social account if necessary
    • Uncover potentially damning information and/or accounts your client has forgotten about that may be relevant to their case
    • If a client’s situation may result in a trial, it’s good to expand the social media background check to those involved in the case, whether it’s witnesses, a plaintiff/defendant, or other key players. The more you know ahead of time, the better prepared you will be.

When thinking about a social media background check, most people automatically think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. However, a background check scans all of the internet and can find additional information, such as:

    • Participation in online forums/message boards
    • Blogs or comments written by your client on blogs or in response to online articles
    • Amazon wish lists (if public)
    • News articles/online public notices specific to your client, which may include information about past legal issues
    • Content that other people have posted about your client

Social media can be invaluable when helping a client. It can also lead to surprises you don’t want to find out once it’s too late. Adding a social media background check to your practice can help uncover useful information to best serve your client – after all, who wants to get sideswiped?