Mark Zuckerberg Facebook IPO road show
Mark Zuckerberg in New York during Facebook’s road show. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
With Facebook’s IPO coming this week you can’t get away from all the news and talk about Facebook.

Is all the hullabaloo warranted? Should you care as a lawyer or law firm?

Yes.

I used to think Facebook was not worth a lawyer’s time. How could a lawyer use a forum where people shared personal notes and pictures to grow professionally or from a business development standpoint? I didn’t get it.

I still didn’t get it when Steve Rubel told me at a Knicks game two years ago that Facebook, by far, was the future for business development, engagement, and brand marketing. I had asked him, as EVP of Edeleman Digital, what was the most important social networking and social media platform for businesses, including law firms.

Facebook is now on the verge of being the plumbing, hub, network, or whatever word you want to put on it for the exchange of ideas and the cultivating of relationships for the majority of Americans.

I share on Facebook a blog post by Mark Cuban on the inevitable bubble we’re going to see burst on student loans and college tuition. A discussion among lawyers and business leaders (one managing $500 Million profit centers for a multi-national publisher) breaks out in the comments about whether the talent, passion, and ability to get the job done is more important when hiring a prospective employee than the degree they received from a leading university.

That dialogue in the Facebook comments among my friends and business colleagues is the stuff relationships are made of. The only thing better would be a good discussion on the subject over a drink with the same folks. Though when face to face, people are more ‘reserved and politically correct.’

Like Zuckerberg says, Facebook empowers people to get more done in less time.

  • You can accelerate ideas.
  • You can accelerate relationships.
  • You can accelerate your word of mouth reputation as a trusted authority.
  • You can accelerate collaboration.
  • You can accelerate movements.
  • You can accelerate the influence of individuals at the expense of corporate brands.
  • You can accelerate everything from the cure of disease to the overthrow of dictators.

Facebook serves as a utility to get all of this done.

Like the phone, it didn’t matter if you liked or trusted Ma Bell. Everyone used Ma Bell so you did too. You didn’t have the option to say “Phones aren’t for me, I only use them for personal discussions, they’re only used by younger lawyers.”

Facebook for lawyers is like the phone. It’s where people engage and develop relationships that lead to face to face meetings. It’s where we get to know people faster and learn to trust or distrust people faster. Clients, prospective clients, friends, business associates, association leaders, the mainstream leaders, and corporate leaders. We’re all here on Facebook.

Sure, not everyone is on Facebook. Yet.

And not everyone, me included has figured out how to use Facebook in a time effective manner. Heck, I am not even sure I need to be time effective with things I enjoy doing like going out to eat with business friends, going to a ball game with a client, or playing golf with fellow Seattle entrepreneur. Facebook is the same thing.

Sure, you may find comfort in joining the half of Americans who think Facebook is a fad (AP-CNBC Facebook Poll). There are also plenty of lawyers who will join who in your belief that that there’s no way lawyers are going to start using Facebook in large numbers to grow relationships and a reputation.

Many lawyers found comfort knowing that the Internet was a fade when the dot.com bubble burst in 2001. Many found comfort laughing at something called Google – of course it will never be used by lawyers to find information.

When viewing the news tomorrow evening on the Facebook IPO, rather than thinking this kid in a hoodie is as crazy as the people giving him billions you might possibly look at Zuck (as I understand his friends and business associates call him) as an Alexander Graham Bell. An eminent inventor, engineer and innovator who is making the world a better place for you. A place where you get the things most important to you done in less time.

Facebook is here to stay. You as a lawyer are going to use Facebook to become a better lawyer, to better serve clients and the public, and to grow your business so you can do the work you love doing.