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Bodine in Marketing the Law Firm Newsletter : Twitter is a waste of time for client development

September 22, 2009

With legal marketing professionals opining Twitter is a waste of time for client development, it’s no wonder lawyers are in a time warp when it comes to adopting innovative and effective technologies.

Where is a seasoned lawyer looking to build and foster relationships with clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three (reporters, bloggers, publishers, conference coordinators, and industry associations) to go? Per Bodine, in addition to LinkedIn and few other worthwhile mediums for client development:

  • Facebook, a great place for building relationships for younger lawyers, but not where I am telling senior rainmakers to spend their time.
  • Martindale-Hubbell Connected, which may have potential, but is no where near the place where a lawyer’s target audience and the influencers of that target is hanging out yet.
  • A law marketing listserv run by Bodine, with some good discussion between legal marketing professionals, but with obviously little potential for networking.

The first third of Bodine’s piece went way out of its way to belittle the power of Twitter as a relationship building and networking tool. This should comes as no surprise as Bodine is making a name for himself in bashing Twitter.

The basis for his argument appears to be that most lawyers don’t use Twitter and that 40% of the discussion on Twitter is mindless – as if the conversation among lawyers and local business leaders in the country club on men’s golf day is that of complex legal matters.

Based on the results I am hearing lawyers are getting by building relationships through Twitter, and getting clients as a result, I am beginning to think that Twitter offers the highest ROI of any networking/relationship building tool.

It does not take a lot of time to key in 140 characters sharing niche legal and business news/commentary with an accompanying link and retweeting commentary from an A-List of bloggers, reporters, business leaders and the like. Both build followers and valuable relationships.

Plus you’d have to be flat out nuts these days not to be monitoring real time conversation on Twitter mentioning your firm, clients, competition, and keywords & phrases related to the niche in which you practice.

I suppose if Bodine were around in the days of Alexander Graham Bell, he’d be siding with the lawyers who thought a lawyer’s use of a phone in rendering legal services was clearly unprofessional and, of course, unethical. A small group of radical lawyers decided to use the phone, probably for perceived mindless babble.

Let’s keep an open mind as to innovative client development tools for the American lawyer. What’s so bad about just saying a medium appears to be working for some folks, I don’t use it to much, I don’t understand it, and we’ll have to see how things play out?

Perhaps I shouldn’t get worked up about misguided advice and opinions from someone who I don’t believe understands Twitter, but Bodine’s piece is in Marketing the Law Firm Newsletter, a part Law Journal Newsletters published by American Lawyer Media.

Bodine’s piece will passed around by managing partners and chief marketing officers clinging to the past. The piece risks needlessly keeping the legal profession lagging behind the industries, corporations, and consumers we serve. That’s a disservice to the American lawyer.

9/23 Update: In the original post (before updating) I mistakenly labeled Bodine’s opinion piece as an article in American Lawyer Media’s Law Technology News (LTN). I originally saw Bodine’s piece on American Lawyer Media’s website under a heading ‘ LegalTechnolgy | Featuring Legal Technology News.’

I mistakenly and stupidly assumed Bodine’s piece was put out by LTN, not even catching the different names – ‘ LegalTechnology | Featuring Law Technology News.’ Bodine’s piece was not published by LTN.

The gist of my post (before updating it) called out LTN for labeling Twitter a waste of time for client development, something I described as a disservice to the American lawyer on LTN’s and ALM’s part.

I apologize to Monica Bay, Editor of LTN, her team at LTN, ALM, and you my readers for my mistake.

ALM employees, including Monica Bay, have a history of effectively using Twitter as a communication and relationship building tool. The last two LegalTech shows put on by ALM included panels on the power of Twitter, both of which panels were spearheaded by Monica Bay. At Monica’s invitation I participated.

What I did was more than taking a cheap shot to LTN and ALM, it was sloppy blogging and exercising poor judgment on my part. I will try to do better.