To what extent do federal courts use social media to communicate with the public or for other purposes? Not much, concluded a recent survey of federal court clerks. The survey found that out of the 135 courts that responded, just 21 (15.6%) used social media. Seventeen others said that they planned to start using social media at some point in the future.

fedcourtssocialmediaThe survey was sent to clerks of court in the federal system, including circuit courts of appeal, district courts, bankruptcy courts and special courts such as the Court of Claims and Tax Court. The clerks were asked various questions relating to how their courts (as opposed to individual judges or staff) use social media. More than tw0-thirds of courts responded.

Of the federal courts that say they use social media, the medium they use most commonly is Twitter, followed by Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. When asked what they use social media for, the most common response was to improve communication with the public about court services, news and other information. Courts also reported using social media for communications with news media, training of outside users on accessing court systems, job recruitment and juror communication.

Other uses the clerks mentioned were to distribute time-sensitive notices and notify lawyers about rule changes.

The courts using social media were asked how often their courts update social media. The majority said that they post updates at least once a week if not daily. Asked if they consider their court’s use of social media beneficial, all indicated that they considered it valuable and would continue to use it.

The survey results were presented at a recent Federal Judicial Center educational conference for U.S. district and bankruptcy court clerks. I have not been able to find the actual survey results anywhere online (although I did find the questionnaire).  The information above comes from a report of the survey written by Norman H. Meyer Jr., clerk of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico, and published in Connected, an e-newsletter on new media and the courts published by the National Center for State Courts and the Conference of Court Public Information Officers.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.