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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Lawyers let Cal Law Reporter know the power of Twitter

October 29, 2008

Brian McDonough of American Lawyer Media’s Recorder’s Cal Law took aim at Twitter last week on Cal Law’s Legal Pad blog asking and answering the question was Twitter as silly for lawyers as for anyone else?

McDonough, who proudly boasts he’s not even registered to use Twitter, describes Twitter for Cal Law readers as the mutant stepchild of text messages and blogging.

You get the 140-character limit and cr8tv abbreviations of text messaging genetically spliced to the sheer inanity of most personal blogs, meaning that at any moment of the day, any of the dozen or hundreds of Twitter-ers (twits?) you follow will tell you things like, ‘Leaving work to watch Series.’ ‘I’m sleepy.’ ‘Traffic sux.’ ‘I want a ham sandwich.’ ‘Puppies!’

From the likes of the responses from lawyers and legal professionals, this is a classic ‘Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.’

From the Director of Media Relations at an AmLaw 200 law firm:

I do use Twitter in several ways. 1) listening. I listen or follow the coversations of others around subjects or topics relative to my attorneys’ practice areas. Trademarks, Bio-pharma, lawsuits, etc. I then engage in online discussions through Twitter with those having those discussions. 2) I build relationships with key media people and outlets. Many of both are on Twitter. Our firm pays for a media relations service, which is one tool that keeps me up to date on reporters and media opportunities. Twitter is simply another tool that I use alongside the many other tools we have.

From a solo practitioner in the Midwest:

…I don’t think… Twitter clogs my inbox with time-wasting clutter. In fact, I use and love Twitter, and it has helped me forge very important connections.

There is no inbox to clog, just a Twitter homepage to check on every now and then.

There are, however, a lot of people posting time-wasting clutter on Twitter. I do not subscribe to those people’s feeds.

From a West Coast solo practitioner doing sophisticated IP work:

I was fairly skeptical, but I think it’s a good place to be exposed to people and connect with people or ideas that you are drawn to. The majority of people are forward thinking in some respect. There are a ton of journalists, entrepreneurs, and CEOs, etc. I don’t know that Quinn Emanuel is going to bag bet the company litigation solely by being on twitter, but lawyers from that firm (and any other firm) will be exposed to people and ideas on twitter and probably make connections. Those connections will likely lead to business down the road.

From an East Coast bankruptcy lawyer:

Absolutely agree with previous comments – Twitter expands your reach, and the people who hear your voice. Cut through the clutter and learn how to use social media effectively, and you will end up with a significantly larger circle of influence.

I’ve met a number of high-profile fellow consumer lawyers, interact with former and current clients, and have learned a fair amount from the people I follow.

Like any other tool, you need to learn how to use it wisely. Same goes for instant messaging, email, Facebook, blogging, and the like.

Remember when “they” said blogging was a waste of time and energy, and that blogs were useful only for the idle ramblings of teenage angst?

From a Midwest business lawyer:

Geographic search capability and the ability to witness local business development are two of the primary benefits of twitter. I completely disagree with the apparent (and very false) perception that twitter is full of teeny-boppers. Entrepreneurs and growing companies hopped on twitter to share and learn, not to gossip and fritter away time – Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin get it and they represent the more visible end of the spectrum? Twitter = one more tool for the attorney devoted to growing a modern firm through modern tools to help modern clients; to think otherwise is reminiscent of “the internet is a fad” thinking.

…[P]eople on twitter are looking for lawyers who “get them.” As I said, many are professionals and business owners. It just makes sense to use twitter if folks of that stripe are your target market (which is the case for me).

Lots of lawyers thought email and websites were counter-productive. And before that most all lawyers agreed that phones would never be used by lawyers in productive ways.

You can practice without Twitter. We’ve done it for decades. The question is why would an innovative lawyer looking to enhance his or her reputation and grow their business want to practice without Twitter today?