Twitter for Lawyers

June 23, 2011

I was recently on a panel for the UC Hastings College of the Law with Doug Mandell and Michael Kernan about social media for lawyers. If you attended, please let me know what you thought of it in the comments. My segment was on Twitter. It’s a big topic, and there’s no way I can cover Twitter for lawyers in the allotted 10 minutes plus Q&A, so I thought I write up a bit more here for those who attended and those who didn’t. The slides will be added below as well.

Twitter and privacy
OK, face it, there isn’t any. Even if you protect your tweets, people can still share them around you, and if you simply don’t use Twitter for fear of privacy issues you’re sticking your head in the sand. If you went to law school and have ambitions to a political career, you’d best be thinking about your brand from the get-go. Do some searches on Twitter, Brand Mentions and TweetBeep and set up alerts for anything new that may come up. Your name, your business name, your practice area, etc.

This may seem narcissistic, but it can help you see potential issues, and most important it gives you the opportunity to engage people who are talking about you or your business. It’s a good idea to set up alerts for the area of practice you’re in as well as for your personal areas of interest.

Getting started on Twitter
I’m not going to go into setting up a Twitter account here or the ins and outs of Twitter etiquette, read my Twitter Manners post for more on that.  If you want to know what NOT to do, here’s a good post on Twitter gaffes. As with most social networks, the most important things you can do are listen first and be yourself. I shouldn’t have to tell you not to answer complicated legal questions on Twitter. Stick to opinions, news, and posts around your areas of interest. If you’re looking to build your brand as an IP lawyer in the tech startup industry you might want to follow the venture capitalists and start-up CXO’s to see what’s going on out there. Share information that is valuable to people you want to talk to and they’ll find you.

Networking on Twitter is no different than face to face networking.You find out what the person you want to talk to is interested in and you cultivate a discussion with them. The only difference here is everybody can see your tweets and quite often someone who is a follower of a friend’s friend will see your tweet and respond out of the blue. This kind of serendipity can lead to all kinds of unexpected opportunities.

Engage other users on topics that create an affinity between you. That hot start-up CFO is into sailing and so are you? Imagine that. Go talk about boats and cruising the keys.

What’s your message
If you’re using Twitter to market your practice, work on showing authority in your area of expertise. Share links to information, give your opinions too, not just parrot the same thing everybody else says. It’s very easy to get off track here and it’s a good idea to check yourself in the mirror periodically to see if you are really sending the message you want to send. Here’s a post about Twylah, a twitter aggregator that can show you what your Tweets look like from a 10,000 foot level and other people who are tweeting about similar keywords. Read them too, follow them if they’re interesting and engage them in a discussion.

Twitter resources for lawyers
There are quite a few resources available specific to lawyers on Twitter, and I added some more general resources here as well.

  • LexTweet A community of Lawyers on Twitter as well as a blog network.
  • Legal Birds The folks at Justia maintain a list sorted by practice area.
  • BlawgSearch Justia also offers links to lawyers blogging sorted by practice area.
  • GovTwit a social media directory for government agencies and officials
  • Legal News feeds Follow these news feeds on Twitter for the latest news on various types of law.
  • JD Supra Really a great resource across several social media networks. Join with your Linkedin login.
  • Listorious List of lawyers (yeah, sat that three times fast..) See who’s on twitter, learn about them, follow and add yourself.
  • BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter Find lawyers to connect with and get yourself on this list.

Search and set up some alerts

  • Search for things to talk about, your name, company name and set up those alerts.
  • Tweetbeep Get alerts for your name and keywords.
  • Mind your reputation and get alerts when there’s something about you online.
  • Here’s a list of a few more advanced social media listening tools
  • And a post about Gist, the contact management app I mentioned at the end of my talk.

Here are the slides from the talk:

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  1. That was a great presentation and thank you for providing the slides here!  I hope we get to work together again in the future.

  2. Thank you, Janet! Great session. A real eye-opener for many. Looking forward to reading your book!

  3. Thanks for the presentation – and, in particular, the links.

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