As lawyers, we are often a conservative bunch. This may especially be so for litigators, who encounter the worst case scenarios of common experiences each and every day. Social media employment law cases are no exception. Inevitably, you will find yourself asking, “What on earth were they thinking when they did that?!”
But undoubtedly, social media tools can be extremely useful to professionals like us. Unfortunately, most lawyers seem to limit their use of social media to LinkedIn and writing the occasional blog post. I want to take this opportunity to encourage more lawyers to actually use social media. Namely, I aim to encourage you to start a Twitter account today. And, no, this is not done to try to attract more followers to my account (but who’s to stop you once you join?).
Of course, my suggestion comes with the caveat that lawyers need to be careful about how they use social media. Tom Watson recently wrote a piece for Wisconsin Lawyer that goes into more detail about the risks lawyers should be aware of before throwing themselves into social media. Any lawyer should know the possible issues to avoid any trouble – see, a conservative bunch!
Once you take the time to make yourself familiar with the issues, you can discover that Twitter is a world of opportunity waiting to be discovered. Admittedly, I did not “get” Twitter when I first attempted to use it. But when I was shown the light, I bought into it big time. Below are a few reasons you, too, should enjoy all it has to offer.
1. You can develop your brand
Many of my followers are other lawyers, networking professionals, and company accounts. When I write a blog post or see an interesting article, I notify the world through Twitter. Several of my followers have re-tweeted my insights to their followers. Some do this on a regular basis. Not only are my thoughts reaching those who follow me, but they are also reaching followers of followers. This is where a Twitter and your blog can be a great combination. While Twitter may be limited to 140 characters, it can serve as a megaphone for your blog that is not so restricted. And as Lindsay Griffiths presents in a recent series of posts on Zen & The Art of Legal Networking, potential clients are paying attention to this content.
There are few things that will validate the time you spent to create written content than a phone call from someone who wants to engage you on the topic you wrote about. Twitter is one way to make these experiences occur more often.
2. You will learn a law-related thing or two
Admittedly, I am not always able to frequently post to my Twitter account. See @jesse_dill (August 2012). However, learning from your Twitter account is easy, passive, and only takes a few minutes on your smartphone while waiting for the elevator to arrive, for a meeting to start, or other unproductive moments we all experience throughout the day. I am able to take in valuable information through my Twitter account because I follow a lot of other lawyers on Twitter from all across the country. When their local judicial authorities come out with a significant new case, they tweet about it. When they tweet, I listen. I have found countless significant legal updates through these tweets. Other lawyers also direct you to blog posts on legal issues they have addressed. These posts can provide a baseline understanding on a complex point of law. They may also present arguments that can help you when assisting your clients by presenting support for your position or an adverse argument you should be able to address.
To be sure, it is impossible to take in everything on Twitter. But if you stay focused and listen to the right people, you will quickly realize and appreciate the benefits of this tool.
3. It’s Free
Somewhere one of the great Marquette librarians is shuddering at my word choice. Ok – it is “cost efficient.” You need to invest some time with your Twitter account to attract a following or find out whom to follow. But how many other services do you currently use that allow you to easily advertise something you wrote to a target audience – people who have expressed a desire to hear from YOU no less – or present a collection of recent cases that is all 100% without financial cost. If you invest in your Twitter account for even a short period of time, you are going to realize some benefit without paying a dime. In the ultra-competitive world that we lawyers live in today, any cost-efficient advantage can be invaluable.