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Twitter success awaits savvy lawyers

September 22, 2010

That’s the word from Neil Rose, editor of Legal Futures, who penned an excellent story in the UK’s Guardian Tuesday on the value of Twitter to practicing lawyers.

Rose leads off with professor and widely respected law firm consultant, Richard Susskind, who defends Twitter in a new introduction to his book, The End of Lawyers?, just out in paperback.

Most lawyers that I speak to dismiss Twitter as yet another plaything for their children. Of what possible relevance, they inquire, could this possibly be for a senior legal practitioner?’

I reply that I know quite a few general counsel and senior in-house lawyers who now use Twitter and regularly send out messages about what they are doing, what they are thinking, and where they are going; and if my clients were sending out regular updates on their news and views, I would want to be on the receiving end, even if the medium has a slightly silly name.

Rose agrees.

I was a sceptic when I joined Twitter earlier this year for the launch of my own website, @legalfutures. It just seemed like something I had to do, but I have become increasingly convinced by its value. This comes in many forms: spreading awareness of my site, making contact with people with similar interests, and being pointed to people and information that I otherwise might not have found… It’s not perfect by any means – some people can tweet you to distraction – but I also like the sense of community.

On asking fellow legal professionals their view on the value of Twitter, Rose received overwhelmingly positive responses.

  • @in_house_lawyer (Melanie Hatton, in-house at Latitude) said it had provided real-time access to legal developments, a better network and enabled her to carve out a niche.
  • @jcasalmir (June Casalmir, Sprint ad law/social media in-house counsel) said that through Twitter she had met people she would like to emulate in her in-house practice.
  • @changesq (Michael Chang, international business & legal affairs exec at major Hollywood motion picture studio) said Twitter ‘reveals the ‘human’ side of fellow lawyers and execs, helping to develop camaraderie online & off.
  • @freemvntblog (UK immigration and asylum law blogger) talked about the access to legal updates.
  • @catrinmills (Catrin Mills, employment lawyer with a difference at Longmores) said it had helped her land a deal with a legal publisher, and there was perhaps unsurprisingly a good response from younger lawyers.
  • @arc7 (Ashley Connick, law student) said he was about to start his law conversion course – ‘Twitter has given me access to lawyers and blogs which have influenced my thinking’ as well as ‘people who have been happy to answer my questions’.
  • @kevinpoulter (Kevin Poulter, employment lawyer) said it had helped the Law Society’s junior lawyers division communicate with its members, while on a personal level he had maintained and built peer-to-peer relationships ‘and occasionally client relationships’.

Legal public relations specialist, Clare Rodway (@clarerodway), explained that Twitter’s value is more raising’s one profile.

…[I]t can be used for ‘extremely targeted prospecting’ for clients. ‘Lawyers ask, ‘Can social networking win business?’ The A is in the Q: It’s a social NETWORK so as useful as any other networking. …[I]t can be better than networking in the real world because ‘you can work a roomful of relevant people without leaving your desk.’

I thought Twitter was the dumbest thing ever when I registered for it out of a sense of obligation to try it three years ago. How the heck can be there any value in sharing that my dog just rolled over?

But after following far smarter people than I who were using Twitter and experimenting with it in a number of ways, there’s no question of Twitters value for me in business and professional development.

  • Sharing news and information I read allows me to help others. Serving others is what drives me.
  • People trust me as a reliable source of relevant news and information. Being trusted in this way is a step of way from further engagement, whether it be invitations to speak or people inquiring about my company’s service.
  • Professional development. Reading and meeting people is my principal means of learning. Twitter’s big on both accounts.
  • Relationship building. I can’t tell you how many people I have come to know better via Twitter. And with my passion being in what I do, the people I meet are critical to my businesses success.

What do you guys think of Twitter for professional development and business development? Join the discussion that’s going on at the Guardian in the comments to Rose’s article or leave a comment here.

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