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.