September 21

How and why Lawyers use Twitter

Legal Innovation, Social Media

1  comments

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!


About the author 

Linda Cheung

Advising innovative companies on marketing and growth strategies. Founder at CubeSocial, Advisor at Oxford Innovation, Board member at Enterprise M3, Mentor at SETsquared. Google Profile

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  1. 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/

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