Alastair Otter, a twenty year media veteran and now head of Media Hack, a media training and consulting business, shared seven reasons why editors ought to be on Twitter.

I thought many of his reasons reasons were spot on for lawyers.

I’m tired of lawyers saying they don’t have time for Twitter and that’s there not much to be gained from Twitter. Such lawyers are showing their ignorance and shirking their responsibility to lead.

The train has left the station and anyone in the information business, of which lawyers are included, can benefit big time from Twitter.

From Otter, with a little annotation from me, admittedly much of which of which involves changing the focus from editors/publishers to lawyers/law firms, here’s six reasons you as a lawyer need to be on Twitter.

  1. It’s where your target audience is. Gone are the days when the only way clients, prospective clients, or referral sources could express their views on current events was in a letter to the editor or guest article. Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to place for discussing news issues and expressing opinions. Lawyers are often at the center of topical or community news. You can’t stay abreast of such news without Twitter.
  2. It’s about leadership. Like editors, lawyers proudly declare themselves to be “old school”. Which is fine, except that it ought not to be an excuse for not embracing change. Young lawyers coming into the profession today are already equipped with a range of digital skills: they tote their iPads, Tweet on their BlackBerrys and express opinions on blogs. This is not something that is going to change.Senior lawyers owe it to their staff to be at least conversant with the technology that lawyers are already starting to use in their day-to-day work.

    As much as lawyers may not be pleased about the digital changes squeezing business, there is no way to escape. This is no longer about what damage digital could do to traditional legal business development; it is about what digital is already doing to business development.

  3. It’s about engagement. Not everyone is a fan of your blog or website. As lawyers we ought to be engaging with all viewpoints. Twitter offers a unique opportunity to talk directly with influencers of your clients and prospective clients, such as reporters, bloggers, and association leaders.
  4. It’s about authority. Traditional media has been accustomed in the past to setting and leading the news agenda. Today, they no longer enjoy that privilege, and blogs, Twitter, and Facebook are shaping the news. Standing on the sidelines while competing law firms are shaping the news via Twitter, and other social media, is not where you want to be.
  5. It’s about marketing. As with editors, marketing is not a welcome word for senior lawyers but, for law firms battling to hold onto their territory, it’s a role they’re going to have to become used to. You don’t have to sell your soul as a marketer.In fact, Twitter offers lawyers the opportunity to establish themselves as an intelligence agent of news and information in niche areas of the law. Doing so, you’ll find prospective clients and referral sources following you on Twitter, giving you the opportunity to build relationships with them.
  6. It will open your eyes. Twitter will surprise you if you give it time. And not in a bad way.If you take time to follow a good handful of people (and not just your staff to keep an eye on them), you’ll eventually be rewarded with insights into what people (your potential clients and referral sources) are thinking about. You’ll find new ideas, insights and opinions.

    Twitter is a lot like going to a massive conference, with every imaginable subject on the agenda. Many of the topics will be of no interest to you but with a little bit of time you’re bound to find something that makes sense.

I apologize Alastair for lifting so much from your article. But your kick in the fanny of editors is exactly the message lawyers need as a well.