Lawyers often feel uneasy without the protection of disclaimers – yet it can be hard to mix serious disclaimers with friendly social media.
Social Media is supposed to be friendly and engaging and brief – the equivalent of a welcoming handshake and a warm smile – rather than a disclaimer’s frown and stern stance with one hand on the hip and another waving a finger of warning.
Disclaimers can come across as serious and are often wordy – written in dense legalese.
Look at the disclaimers often attached to e-mails!
Plus, who actually reads disclaimers?
I do – but more to study how writers can get a message across in an easy-going way for social media and websites and legal marketing.
My first example is: Legal Lad
I love listening to Legal Lad‘s podcasts. He explains legal matters in an interesting and simplified way. He comes across as professional – yet affable.
(Podcast Nerd – listening to Legal Lad and Grammar Girl and Get-It-Done Guy – they love their memorable alliteration!)
I was keen to find out: How do you get a disclaimer in a podcast?
Surely it will turn people off if you start with the disclaimer!
Legal Lad – starts with jaunty ska music – then an a quick intro – then “your daily dose of legalese” –
“This podcast does not create an attorney-client relationship with any listener. In other words, although I am a lawyer, I’m not your lawyer. In fact, we barely know each other. If you need personalised legal advice – contact an attorney in your community”
Then it quickly moves into the content for the podcast.
In my opinion – this disclaimer gets the message across (near the start of the podcast) in a concise and plain-language style.
It doesn’t take too long and it is delivered in a friendly style and quickly moves into the content!
Well done, Legal Lad!
My second example is Sydney firm – Marque Lawyers
In an earlier post, I wrote about Marque Lawyers and its entertaining lawyer bios and colourful use of images.
The firm’s disclaimer gets the message across – that you shouldn’t rip off any of their stuff – but with a dash of comic exaggeration and a quirky finish that ends the disclaimer on a lighter note.
See what you think:
“We claim copyright over everything on this site and everything else ever written but at the same time we deny that any of it is reliable or true so don’t blame us if you rely on it.”
“Plagiarism is a crime and a sin. If you do it to us, we will find out where you live and set fire to your shrubbery.”
“Shrubbery” reminds me of Monty Python – many members of the Monty Python team were Oxford University creative types who were also lawyers and doctors. They liked something completely different too.
Here are the links to the Marque website and a Beyond the Pinstripe interview:
More on why the Marque lawyer bios are so engaging and effective!
And here is a link to Legal Lad:
As a writing coach, I often help organisations make printed messages SOUND more friendly and engaging – on websites, social media and printed “marketing collateral”.
In print – it’s interesting how you can make disclaimers seem “more friendly” by tweaking the look of them.
1. lower case is softer that ALL CAPITALS
2. The more slender and slanted italics can look more human (like handwriting) and less upright and uptight than “straight” lettering
3. Inside parenthesis – can look softer too – like a “softer”more personal “chat” – rather than a stern warning.
But I have so many more questions about disclaimers.
Do we really need disclaimers in social media?
Are people who use them – just being over-cautious?
Do they do any good? Are they of any use?
Should they be at the beginning or at the end of written social media? Or both?
Is it acceptable to be quirky and humorous as in the Marque disclaimers.
I’ll have to get my social media lawyer contacts on to these questions for a future post. Of course we’ll have to put in a disclaimer that the information is purely for educational purposes and does not constitute legal advice!
(respectful disclaimer: The likeable lawyer posts are for educational purposes only and do not constitute a consultant-client relationship. For legal marketing advice you can contact a legal marketing consultant in YOUR area OR ( if you are based in Australia or Singapore/South East Asia) you can engage me in a professional relationship.)
Tony Biancotti helps lawyers communicate more effectively with everyday people. Tony is a former lawyer turned journalist, communication consultant, and legal marketing maverick.
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