1 Ethics and Professional Responsibility

Virtue and the Virtual: Introduction to Legal Ethics and Social Media

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers
1 CPD Point


Interactive Content
Self-Paced Completion
On-demand and on Any Device
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Lawyers and law firms are increasingly engaging in social media, bringing both opportunities and new and challenging ethical issues. This course examines these issues and provides practical guidance on the topic.

Lawyers and law firms are engaging with social media increasingly both for personal and business purposes.  While there are clear benefits for the profession in engaging with social media, it also exposes lawyers to new and challenging ethical issues.

The course also provides a brief introduction to different types of social networking platforms and discusses the characteristics of social media which increase the likelihood of errors or ethical transgressions being made by lawyers.

The course then examines the specific ethical issues which arise from lawyers increased engagement with social media, and provides practical guidance on how lawyers can avoid ethical transgressions in this context.  The course illustrates this through a series of real life case studies which explore a range of ethical issues lawyers may face when engaging with social media, including:

  • tweeting or blogging about cases and clients, and the potential for breaches of confidentiality;
  • using social media to advocate on behalf of clients outside the courtroom;
  • using social networking sites to access information about witnesses or other parties to proceedings; and
  • Issues arising from judges and lawyers being “friends” on a social networking site.

Last Updated: January 2023

Meet the expert

LawCPD Author: Chris Shanahan SC
Christopher Shanahan SC
Barrister Murray Chambers

Christopher Shanahan SC was admitted to the WA bar in 1984, NSW in 1989 and the High Court of Australia in 1990. He practices as a barrister at Murray Chambers.

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  1. 4.0/5
    Highly informative and necessary course
    Very detailed and well thought out training course for lawyers seeking to know their ethical responsibilities in reference to using online platforms and engaging in 'open discussions' or in their sharing personal and professional 'points of views' about present legal cases, judges, and rulings.
  2. 4.0/5
    Ethical challenges in the Brave New Social Media World
    A very informative course. Some of the split majority decisions or appeal being upheld by the High Court in Christeas Case highlight the complex issues raised.
  3. 5.0/5
    Well Researched and Presented
    Well researched & presented & easy to understand course.
  4. 5.0/5
    Interesting in showing the application and extension of ethical duties in the digital age.
  5. 5.0/5
    Refreshingly Pertinent. 10 marks to the author!
    Whilst I am a sexagenarian Australian practitioner, I possess an above average awareness (for my age bracket) of social media utilising Facebook, Google my Business and Twitter for professional purposes. Historically, my benchmark for any written communication, indelible or not, has always been the application of the idea "What would the Court think?". Be that as it may, I found this course on the pitfalls of using social media refreshingly pertinent to my obligations and crystallising in my mind the range of duties I must discharge daily in pursuance of the law, the Uniform Australian Solicitors' Conduct Rules and the Legal Profession Act 2007 (Qld). Thank you and 10 marks to the author!