It’s a shame that many lawyers look at social media, whether it be blogging or the use of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and now, Google Plus, as some form of advertising or marketing.

I was talking to Seattle Attorney, Tom Pedreira, general counsel for LexBlog and a law school classmate of mine, yesterday about Friday’s Wall Street Journal story on the use of Twitter by lawyers (sub. req’ed).

In the story by criminal justice reporter, Tamer El-Ghobashy, it seemed Twitter and social media were being made out to be today’s version of the yellow pages and gimmicky ads.

I explained to Pedreira that New York Criminal Defense Attorney, Matthew Galluzzo, whose firm was the subject of the Journal Story, had it right. The best work comes by word of mouth because of one’s reputation.

The very best clients are referrals from other lawyers. That’s the old-school way of doing it, and that is still the best way to do business…

Unfortunately Galluzzo, who has figured out how to use Twitter effectively to connect with the media and enhance his firm’s reputation for doing quality defense work, is made out by El-Ghobashy to be the poster boy of Twitter use, which was then talked of as a vehicle for advertising and marketing.

73 year old criminal defense attorney, Murray Richman, was cited by El-Ghobashy as being anti Twitter and social media.

Mr. Richman–who conceded he’s “old-fashioned”–said his distaste for lawyers using social media stems from his refusal to advertise.

He also regards tweeting and commenting online as an attempt to “hustle the cases” away from the existing counsel.

“You’re being judged on being cute or having a cute expression and all the nonsense that goes on with Twitter,” he said.

Ironically, Richman understood the actual concept of social media quite well. Look how he got his work as a young lawyer.

When [I] was starting out, [I] got clients by going “where the criminals are.”

I went to bars, clubs and pool rooms on a Friday night. By the end of the night I had five, 10 or 12 new cases because they got to know me.

“Because they got to know me.” That says it all. That’s the essence of a lawyer’s use of social media.

Hearing about the story, Pedreira responded “I still get my best clients from referrals from my hunting buddies.” I responded, “Exactly.” Just like Richman said it, because these buddies get to know you.

As a lawyer you don’t have to use any form of social media. There are countless ways to build relationships and enhance your reputation.

All of them have one thing in common, getting out and mingling/networking (ideally with your target audience) so that people get to know you. And trust you.

Please don’t construe a lawyers use of social media as some form of yellow pages, crass advertising, or, even, marketing. If you do, you’re missing the boat and a wonderful opportunity.

  • shg

    It was curious that Tamer used two New York lawyers, Matthew Galuzzo and Jeremy Saland, as examples of lawyers using social media to market themselves. I’ve never heard of Galuzzo, either online or anywhere else, and I’ve only heard of Saland because he named his blog New York Criminal Lawyer Blog, and people have asked me about it. I stopped by there once, but the content was worthless and I never went back. I’m unaware of anyone ever linking to it.
    So how did Tamer come to these fellows as representative of lawyers using social media? His answer was vague. The only thing I know is that I know a lot of lawyers in New York and online, and I don’t know any more about either of them then I say here.
    On the other hand, Murray Richmond is an old, dear friend and the Dean of the Bronx criminal defense bar.

  • I was wondering the same thing Scott. Was it PR being pushed at WSJ the traditional way public relations agencies have done it in the past? I don’t know.
    I still find it interesting that you say that your blog has not anything for you as you told the WSJ. How’d you hook up with Dan Hull’s firm? Did you him know before? I got to believe if you guys knew each other before that blogging caused you guys to get to know each other a little better. I also have to believe the critical thinking and analysis you’ve done with all your blogging hasn’t hurt you as a lawyer — and a person.
    Like you, I don’t look at blogs as typical lawyer marketing or advertising. I guess I have been cursed by being ‘marked’ as others as doing blogs as marketing/advertising.
    I look at blogs, twitter, and what not as a way to learn, share insight, network with others, and get to know people. At the end of the day if you are doing those things and you are a good lawyer, you are likely to get legal work the old fashioned way – by reputation and word of mouth.
    I am glad to hear Murray Richmond is a dear friend of yours. He came off very well in the WSJ story.

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