Social Media for Lawyers is FoolproofThat sure appears to be the message Adrian Dayton was sending in a recent column in the National Law Journal entitled ‘Social media? Nothing to be afraid of.’

From Dayton:

  • Take Twitter, one of the most basic of sites. You follow people and things that interest you, and you share or “tweet” about people or things that you find of value.
  • LinkedIn is similarly foolproof: Sign up at LinkedIn.com, follow the prompts and start connecting.
  • Blogging is the easiest tool of all. You can start a blog in five minutes: Simply go to WordPress.com, Blogspot.com or some other blogging service, click on “start a new blog” and follow the prompts. Once you’ve created your blog, writing a new post is as easy as writing a document using Microsoft Word. Actually, it is easier — as easy as filling in a search term on Google and pressing “search” (except this time you are going to hit “publish”).(emphasis added)

As to a strategy to make sure you realize a return on your investment of time and expense, to protect your firm’s brand, and to stay out of harms way ethically and liability-wise?

Aren’t there strategies and tactics and etiquette to learn? Sure, but mostly these come down to common sense. The most important part is signing up and starting to explore.

Social media is nothing to be afraid of per Dayton.

There are things to be afraid of in this world — things you may never understand, like how to fix a carburetor, deliver a baby or mill wheat — but social media aren’t among them.

There was a bit more to the article than that, but that was the gist of the message on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Blogging. Sign up and explore.

I’m the first to challenge lawyers and law firms to consider using social media to enhance their reputation and grow their word of mouth reputation. A willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes can be beneficial in learning what social media is all about and how it can be used for professional and business development.

But rather than winging it, law firms may want to consider, among other things, the following:

  • Education on what social media is really all about? Why are some law firms realizing significant client development gains through social media while other firms are struggling?
  • Developing design and content protocols that prevent the firm and its lawyers from being embarrassed.
  • Developing a strategy that allows the firm to realize its goals.
  • Ethical, liability, and practical concerns, such as time commitment.
  • Which social media are the most appropriate for them.
  • A social media policy or, at least, the consideration of social media implications in existing policies.

When I’ve spoken to Dayton in person, he’s a nice enough guy. Very personable. He appears well intentioned in helping lawyers and law firms when it comes to social media.

I’m not sure what Dayton advises law firms, I’ve not heard him speak to groups, and obviously not heard him consult law firms. My guess is his message is a little less naive than the message sent here. He may advise that firms consider some of the above items I mention. Dayton may have even written on it.

But sending a message out like this in the National Law Journal does more to set back the use of social media by lawyers and law firms than to advance it. It’s a message that will rightfully scare the hell out of law firm elders and their law firm business development and marketing professionals.

Imagine a senior partner telling others in the firm “You find people, you tweet — nothing to it. Twitter’s foolproof, let’s all start Tweeting.” Or “I’m starting a blog on Blogspot, blogging is the easiest of all social media, it’s as easy as filling in a search term on Google. Let’s all explore.”

The National Law Journal reports legal information of importance to attorneys as well as covers legislative issues and legal news for the business community. Rather than ‘Lawyers Weekly’ focus on smaller firms, which I read as a practicing lawyer, the National Law Journal, which I also read as a practicing lawyer, primarily targets large law and their clients.

Telling large law that social media is foolproof and that you can set up a blog in five minutes because it’s as easy to publish a blog post as it is fill in a search term on Google is a misguided message to the American lawyer.

It’s a message that ought be avoided by Dayton and the National Law Journal. Lawyers deserve better.

  • Social media has dangers lurking around every corner and needs to be understood fully before starting the venture. I generally agree with this post in this regard.