5 Totally Fixable Ways Law Firms Suck at Using Social Media

It’s hard to start doing something without knowing how to do it, particularly when you look around and see others doing it with ease. Whether its swinging a golf club, painting a picture, or learning an instrument, there’s a reason why nobody is able to do those things perfectly (with a few notable exceptions) right away. It takes time and energy to increase skill, and experience teaches many lessons. Yet starting that process as a novice while those around you are experts isn’t fun. That’s the position most attorneys find themselves in when it comes to using social media. Other industries that adopted social media sooner (okay, all industries other than medicine) have invested time and energy into their social media plans. They’ve had the practice, and – importantly – learned from mistakes, and they’re better for it. Getting the most out of social media requires practice, patience, and experience. It requires time and investment. It also takes a willingness to challenge your preconceived notions about social media. Sadly, too many attorneys refuse to invest the time and energy needed for using social media, and end up doing it badly. Many of the problems, though, could be fixed with a little patience. Here are 5 Totally Fixable Ways Law Firms Suck at Using Social Media: 1) Assuming that simply being on Social Media equals engagement. My favorite version of this particular issue isn’t actually about a lawyer. For years, Warren Buffett wasn’t on Twitter was because he was technology averse. That was it, he wasn’t on Twitter. Until May 2, 2013, when he sent his first tweet. As of... read more

Tweets of Wrath: Unethical or Just Hilarious?

Just hilarious. Have you ever looked up the wrong company because their names were similar? Maybe made a mistake when you searched on Google and accidentally thought www.dollarsexchange.com was something OTHER than a currency exchange. (Thanks, Business Insider!) It can be embarrassing, no doubt. Usually, upon realizing the mistake, you try your best to look shamed enough without letting EVERYONE around you know you messed up, and you get the hell out of there. Ok, now let’s get a little more specific. Let’s say you’re a lawyer (I know, fat chance getting an ACTUAL lawyer to read this blog, but play along anyway). You work for a big firm in, oh, Pittsburg. You practice… well… just for fun, we’ll say you practice various types of real estate law. And you mistakenly send a Tweet to  @SCOTUSBlog, rather than the Twitter account for the actual United States Supreme Court. When informed you were in the wrong place, your response would be “Go f@ck yourself and die,” wouldn’t it? No? Well apparently Steven M. Regan, partner at Reed Smith in Pittsburg, doesn’t feel the same way. Note: Since this story hit, the Twitter account for the user posting as Steven M. Regan, Esq. has, of course, been deleted. I have no hard information confirming that this account actually belonged to attorney Steven M. Regan, beyond what has already been reported. Ok, a little background: First, as reported by Findlaw’s Law Firm Business Blog the Strategist, the folks at SCOTUSblog routinely receive Tweets from people who think they’re actually a blog for the actual United States Supreme Court. Also as reported by... read more

Florida Bar on Ethics: “Get Off My Lawn!”

“… rotten kids.” Ok, so I’m paraphrasing, but I couldn’t actually get anyone to go on the record! Seriously, anyone who has paid any attention to the ethics rulings coming from the Florida Bar recently must either be scratching their heads, shaking their heads, or just pointing and laughing… unless you’re an attorney in Florida! There’s no question that legal ethics experts and advisors everywhere have had a really tough time dealing with the march of technology at use in law firms in the 21st century. Among the most vexing issues has been how to apply existing ethical standards to new types of media, particularly social media. The ABA, for its part, has recommended that states add new rules requiring attorneys to keep up with technology to meet competence requirements. Many states, addressing specific examples, have done impressive work making existing rules applicable to new media. And Florida’s reaction? “LALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Am I being a little over-the-top? Yes. But I really wanted to find a way to use that picture. Before I go any further, you should know that I hold those charged with maintaining the ethics of our profession in high regard. My mentor, G. Gray Wilson, is about as ethical and honest an attorney as you’ll ever find (and a state bar counselor). I’d turn to self-mutilation before I let him down by committing an ethics violation. That said, let’s  take a look at Florida’s approach to the ethics of social media: 1) Lawyers who are not board certified in a certain area may NOT use the words “certified,” “specialist,” or “expert” in online... read more

Can a Law Firm Become a Social Media Rock Star?

Yesterday, I happened to come upon an article in Forbes by Christine Comaford titled “Become a Social Media Rock Star in Four Easy Steps.” Intrigued by the title, which was worded perfectly to catch the eyes of people like me, I read it. Essentially, the article discusses a four-step process, as described by social media guru Vala Afshar, to get the most out of prospective social media. The steps, which can apply to all types of social media – from Twitter user to full-time blogger, are designed to help anyone make their social media presence into a powerhouse tool of influence and client recruitment. However, after reading them, I wondered whether the tools could really help law firms, particularly those firms who tend to be averse to social media engagement. After some deliberation, here are 4 steps to becoming a social media rock star… for law firms! According to Comaford’s article, “it is valuable, timely content that drives social success. Become a source of insightful content, well-focused on your target audience, and over time you will build an engaged network that will help you grow both personally and professionally.” 1) Curate from the best. This step is the beginning. Once you’ve decided what type of content your social media will focus on – preferably something interesting to whomever will be tasked with writing the posts – you need to, as the article puts it, “[p]ut your antenna up and collect, forward, and amplify topical information on your field of interest.” For your law firm’s social media engagement, you have to come up with a plan. Figure out who you... read more

7 Tips to Enhance Social Media Engagement Using Hashtags

Hashtags. They’ve become ubiquitous in our national culture. Everything, it seems, has a hashtag. Turn on the TV on Sunday and you’re likely to see “#foxsports” somewhere on the screen. Amazingly, at least to my knowledge (and given that I’m 33, I’ve probably already started missing out on some of the newest trends), we have yet to convert the hashtag into a spoken word or catch-phrase, unlike “smileyface!” Give it time. Popularized by Twitter, hashtags are now the unofficial organizational tool of social media. You find them on a significant amount of the posts on sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Vine. Last, but certainly not least, Facebook announced this past summer that hashtags (and, more importantly for our discussion, the ability to search hashtags) are now a feature for Facebook users. Hashtags are even gaining considerable influence as general search tools. 9 billion searches are performed on Twitter each month. Yahoo! and Bing can’t match that total combined. (For the uninitiated, a primer) Hashtags allow you to engage online users, target your audience, and promote awareness of your firm. So here are my 7 Tips to Enhance Social Media Engagement Using Hashtags. 1) Plan and research your hashtags. The most important thing that I hope you get out of this piece is that hashtags should serve as just another piece of a well-crafted firm marketing plan. When carefully crafted and targeted, hashtags will expose a whole new group of people to your firm and what you do. However, just like everything else in your marketing plan, make sure you know what it means before you start shouting about... read more

Tweets of Wrath: This Attorney Didn’t Listen

Not long ago, I wrote a post entitled “Tweets of Wrath: Social Media and the Disgruntled Client.” In the event you choose not to go back and check it out (I wish you would, it’s one of my favorite stories), the basics of the post discuss the steps someone should take when responding to a disgruntled client’s social media posts. Remembering that the key rules STILL APPLY to social media, the biggest thing you want to make sure you do is keep confidential information… well… confidential. After that, you really need to remember NOT to injure the client by what you post. In the end, it remains my position that your best bet is to ignore the post the best you can. Well, today I saw this article, talking about an Illinois attorney who decided that she would rather respond… The facts of the case, as described by the article, and confirmed in this complaint filed before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, are as follows: During the month of September 2012, the attorney, Betty Tsamis (“Respondent”) agreed to represent a Richard Rinehart regarding an employment dispute between Rinehart and his former employer, American Airlines. Rinehart, who had been a flight attendant, was terminated by American Airlines, reportedly due to an alleged assault by Rinehart on a coworker. Rinehart paid Respondent a retainer of $1,500. Between September 2012 and January 2013, Respondent met with Rinehart on at least two occasions, and reviewed Rinehart’s employment file, which she obtained from American Airlines. During January 2013, Respondent represented Rinehart in a telephone hearing with the Illinois Department of Employment Security,... read more

Third-Party Social Media: Ethical or Not?

A new company in Dallas, Texas, WiredForPR.com, is offering third-party social media engagement and blogging services for lawyers and law firms. As detailed by one of my new heroes Kevin O’Keefe in his blog, Dallas attorney/journalist Stephanie Dube Dwilson* is offering a service to lawyers who want to have social media engagement, but  don’t have the time or inclination to do it themselves. (Hereinafter “Ms. [D]Wilson” due to her site and her resume – available here – being inconsistent.) Yet with all that has been published about the potential pitfalls of failing to properly monitor your firm’s social media engagement, can you ethically rely on third-party social media? Wired For PR Ms. [D]Wilson’s website lists the services available to lawyers and law firms in what appears to be a deliberately restaurant-menu style. Beginning with a narrative discussion of what her site offers, Ms. [D]Wilson states: “Your involvement can range from, ‘Set it and forget it,’ to, ‘Run everything by me first no matter what.’ What I mean is this; as a journalist and a licensed lawyer, I can maintain your blog and social media sites with minimal supervision. Most of my clients, however, like to review every single communication before it is released – and I am more than happy to oblige.” All blog articles are ghostwritten, the site explains, and are written by a team of authors that are supervised by Ms. [D]Wilson. “Rest assured that nothing reaches the client’s desk until it has received my personal stamp of approval,” the site states. The Price of Third-Party Social Media The site offers three tiers of complete, hands-off packages for clients: For... read more

Maximizing Your Law Firm’s LinkedIn Company Page

When you sign on to LinkedIn, you are probably most concerned with news about your contacts and making sure that your individual page looks good. It’s a professional social media site, so it is most definitely important to keep your information up-to-date and aesthetically pleasing. However, I’d be willing to bet you don’t put nearly that much thought into your law firm’s LinkedIn company page. If you read this blog regularly or keep up with the ABA’s annual technology surveys, you know that LinkedIn is THE choice for lawyers and law firms when it comes to social networking. This weekend, an excellent article in the Kansas City Business Journal, reviewed brilliantly by Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs, discusses some of the best ways to maximize your law firm’s LinkedIn company page, which for many, is a mere afterthought. LinkedIn has over 200 million users and over 3 million company pages. Considering that 98% of attorneys surveyed by the ABA reported that they use LinkedIn. Law firms need to consider the possibility that the first impression many attorneys and other professionals will have of their firm is from their LinkedIn company page. Why is this important? Just think about how much of your firm’s business in the past year came not from online advertisement or foot traffic, but from referrals or recommendations made by other attorneys!  Suddenly, your law firm’s LinkedIn company page is beginning to take on the same level of importance as your firm website, isn’t it? Well, not to worry, there are plenty of resources out there to provide guidance. Citing the Kansas City Business Journal article, Kevin... read more

Tweets of Wrath: Social Media and the Disgruntled Client

“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you,” admonished every single mother, I imagine, for the entire history of human kind. It’s probably even in some of those ancient cave glyphs that have been found. It’s a fundamental tenet of New Testament Christianity, that one will demonstrate their strength in their ability to “turn the other cheek,” to refuse to dignify the petty assault of another. Today, it seems sometimes like it would take the internal, divine fortitude of a deity to handle some of the fierce attacks that one can find almost daily on Twitter or Facebook. Then one morning, you’re flipping past pictures of your friends’ kids on Facebook, when you see that one of your former clients, unhappy about the result of their case, has decided to post a comment on your firm’s page calling you… … a   Hey, let’s face it, today’s social media allows anyone to say pretty much anything, and to do so before their “better angels,” so to speak, can prevent them. It’s done on accident all the time! Yesterday, even Dr. Phil (allegedly) had to delete a post from his twitter account after a poorly thought out question led some to wonder whether he was condoning rape if the woman was intoxicated (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t, but you get it). Another fact of life we all have to deal with is that there will ALWAYS be clients who will be upset with the services we, as attorneys, provide. So you’ve received some really nasty reviews from a former client, that you consider to be... read more

Being Social: Lawyers Prefer LinkedIn

According to the American Bar Association’s 2013 Legal Technology Survey, the percentage of lawyers and law firms utilizing social media is on the rise, and by a considerable margin, lawyers prefer LinkedIn over Facebook and Twitter. The ABA reports that 56% of law firms and 98% of lawyers have a presence on LinkedIn, up from 37% and 62%, respectively, just two years ago. Why do lawyers prefer LinkedIn over Facebook (35% of law firms and 33% of lawyers) and Twitter (19% of law firms and 14% of lawyers), and what else does this report tell us about how lawyers can and should utilize social media going forward? It should come as no surprise to anyone that social media platforms are playing an increasingly important role in our business and personal lives. For proof, one needs only look at how the New York Times responded to their own website being unavailable for several hours yesterday: they began posting their digital articles on Facebook until the site was back up! However, like every other technological innovation, lawyers have been slow to adopt social media. Even the ABA’s report indicates that although attorney use of social media is on the rise, the rate of increased use of social media among lawyers continues to be lower than the general public. The one major exception is LinkedIn. Don’t believe me? Well, based on the past two weeks, if you’re reading this page via social media, there’s over 90% likelihood that it’s through LinkedIn. So what is it that LinkedIn offers attorneys that they cannot find in other social media.  Well, several things, really. Professionalism “Professionalism”... read more
Page 4 of 41234