Had I not chosen the road I have and was still practicing law and someone came to our law firm partner’s meeting talking about social media and how our firm might use it for professional and business development I would have been one of the real skeptics.

Even though I see the power of blogging and other forms of social media for lawyers and law firms and want to be enthusiastic as all get out, I need to be empathetic with how many of you are feeling.

You’re an excellent lawyer. You are role a model and mentor for young lawyers looking to do well by themselves and the legal profession. You have built your practice and book of business by improving your skills as a lawyer, doing high quality work, and delivering outstanding service to your clients.

Your best work and best clients have come through relationships and your word of mouth of reputation. Those are the core concepts of business development for lawyers and law firms. Why bother with social media?

Rather than looking at the Internet and social media as something new, just look at the Internet, of which social media plays an integral role, as an accelerator of relationships and your word of mouth reputation.

If there were a way to accelerate the growth of your law firm’s business and revenue in a tasteful and eloquent manner, don’t you as a law firm leader have the fiduciary and financial obligation to at least discuss it? Wouldn’t the firm want to consider how it could empower its team members (partners and associates) to leverage this accelerator to grow business — especially if some of your teammates wanted to do so?

Social media is nothing new. View it as a buzz word that’s hot if you will. All we’re talking about is relationships and word of mouth.

Lawyers nurture and build relationships by networking — or engaging their target audience. That, and of course, doing high quality work, is how lawyers built a book of business 100 years ago as well as today.

‘Social media’ didn’t change that anymore than the advent of the car and the telephone did in years past. Like those two, the Internet, including social media, accelerated word of mouth and relationships.

You as a law firm leader leave a very wide wake. Your behavior and speech impact your lawyers and other law firm personnel in a big way. You impact how clients, prospective clients, business associates, and recruits (new grads or lateral hires) feel about the firm.

  • Do you make feel people empowered?
  • Are people excited and proud to wear the uniform of your law firm?
  • Are we open to new ideas?
  • Do we recognize that we’re all different in how we build our careers, some lawyers will do this, others that?
  • Do we foster an environment of curiosity and learning?
  • Are we competitive with other law firms?
  • Are we conducting business itself, not just the law, in the way our innovative and growing clients are?

You might never personally use social media for professional and business development. If I were still practicing today, and not fell into what I do, I probably wouldn’t. My focus was being a good trial lawyer.

When I practiced I had weekly meetings with my firm’s associates to listen to their concerns, hear what they were excited about, and appreciate what was going on in their lives outside of the office. I felt I had an obligation to help them. I knew they were the future of our law firm.

I would hope that whatever caused me to have those weekly meetings would have meant I would have had an open mind on social media. I don’t know if it would have.

I suggest you care about social media, if not yourself, for others and for how you, personally, and as a law firm, are perceived.