How and why Lawyers use Twitter

clip_image001This time last week the Corporate Counsel Forum Europe hastag #ccfe filled my screen. Tim Bratton, General Counsel of the Financial Times, was giving a talk about social media for lawyers and was tweeting live while on stage. Thanks to Twitter I felt like I was there…

As the event kicked off it seemed that Tim, who tweets as legalbrat, had a tough audience:

· kilroyt: Tim has just exposed some of us tweeting in the room. People look suspicious #ccfe

· strong_tim: Being watched curiously by colleagues… #ccfe

· toyboxstudio: I imagine there’s a combination of childlike excitement (@bazv / @legalbrat) and “plausible deniability” (the old guard) at #ccfe now

But was presenting a compelling case for social media:

· chrisdaleoxford: World has changed. @legabratshows video about news, its immediacy and effect on markets, politics etc #ccfe

· chrisdaleoxford: FT using social media channels as channel for subscribers, to create content, to source stories #ccfe

· kilroyt: Tim explaining tangible benefits of social media (legal romanettes here): (i) Network (ii) Know-how (iii) crowdsourcing (iv) blogs #ccfe

If you see value in networking, you should see value in social media:

· chrisdaleoxford: Everyone here sees value of personal networking at conferences. Social media, @legalbratimplies, is that value multiplied #ccfe

· kilroyt: If you turn up for 2 days here in person, why not listen to expertise from the same community on social media? #ccfe

· HelenJThomson: Sounds like @legalbrat is on the money at #ccfe – if you see the value in personal networking, surely social media is a logical extension?

Why lawyers use Twitter

Tweeted responses to Tim asking the question as legalbrat:

· New business opportunities
robertcumming: I picked up some instructions via Twitter for a global client last week #ccfe #smug
law4mumpreneurs: for me twitter is an essential business tool enabling me to gain 70+ clients in just over a year of working part time #ccfe
saysitstraight: I have written for The Lawyer, Estates Gazette and Daily T as a direct result #ccfe

· Network and community
bazv: greatly expanded network. Have met friends and colleagues in US & UK wld never have met otherwise. #ccfe
saysitstraight: it’s a community and the usual lawyer posturing not generally present #ccfe
chrisdaleoxford: Where else can you chat with a QC, journalist, partner, trainee [or] CG anywhere in the world #ccfe
in_house_lawyer: #ccfe It saves time. I’ve received helpful advice in minutes to my SOS tweets which would otherwise have taken hours of research

· Keeping in touch
jcasalmir: Critical legal developments are starting to break first on Twitter before other places
Oxfordlawyer: #ccfe good source of knowhow and good insight into clients
jon_bower: it’s the most effective way to keep up to date with breaking news across a number of areas both legal (and social!) #ccfe
dieterdelarue: because it’s fun, keeps us up to date, lets us keep clients and peers up to date, and because @allenovery encourages it #ccfe

Managing Confidentiality

Responses to kilroyt asking “do people observe the boundaries?”:

· _millymoo: if lawyers or other professionals are tweeting confidential info, the problem is in the chair, not the channel #ccfe

· HighlandLawyer: If the client could identify themself from what you’ve said, you’ve gone beyond the boundaries… #ccfe

· LegalBizzle: But how much genuinely confidential info can you fit in 140 chars? #ccfe
kilroyt: @LegalBizzle Less than on the phone and we’re not monitoring all their calls #ccfe

· rht73: don’t think lawyers are the concern for Tweeting confidential information, same rules as for any comms #ccfe

· danversbaillieu: Lawyers make good tweeters because we’re trained to be discreet and respect confidentiality #ccfe

Closing Remarks

· kilroyt: Tim summarizes benefits as “Network, Knowledge and Sharing” #ccfe

· LegalWeek: If just 5 percent of us started blogging think of all the expertise that would be out there available for free #ccfe

· robobooth: Is fact #ccfe has just moved to joke telling sign of just how varied use of social media can be? From serious to jokes in mins. No bad thing

And when I tweeted to ask “What do the colleagues who were watching on curiously at the beginning now think?”:
strong_tim: Mostly unconvinced… fun to try… some will have got the message… Anyway, don’t want everyone from my line of work on here just yet. I want to be a legal pioneer for a bit longer!

Free Ebook: Brilliant at the Basics of Social Media

Like this? Share with your friends...
    • http://flemingstephen.wordpress.com/ Stephen Fleming

      I agree that social networking is a logical extension of “real world” networking, however in my experience lawyers still see barriers – possibly just a mental block – with using technology to network. They’re comfortable with email, but I thnk many still see Twitter as new-fangled. Good guidance, policies and training are needed to help overcome these hurdles.

      I recently blogged about a related topic of merging personal and business social networking:

      http://flemingstephen.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/blurring-the-boundaries-between-business-and-personal-social-media/