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How Lawyers Are Using Social Media

There's an interesting article in Chicago Lawyer describing the many ways that lawyers are using Web 2.0 applications and social media.

For example, Tom Skallas, a 35-year-old partner at Holland & Knight, uses both LinkedIn and Facebook to network with individuals. These help him keep in touch with clients and sometimes lead to business:

Skallas connected with a grade-school friend whose line of work fit with what he does as a lawyer, and they began a professional relationship.

”I always believe lawyers are a little behind in terms of accepting new ideas, and new ways of communicating,” Skallas said. ”I think you have a whole generation of people growing up on this stuff. If you intend to reach out to them, then you need to do it on their terms.

”I communicate all day long and sometimes all night long with my clients. Staying connected with them is sort of critical. In order for me to generate revenue I have to maintain those relationships and create new ones,” he said. ”It's not that Facebook or LinkedIn is anything that special. It's another means of facilitating that communication.”

Other lawyers use the sites for trial prep:

Geoffrey Vance, a 38-year-old partner at McDermott Will & Emery, often uses these social networking sites to gather facts about the opposing side in trials.

For example, in one case, a plaintiff claimed Vance’s client drove him out of business. The opposing counsel wanted to paint the plaintiff as a poor, loving family man, he said.

Vance found on MySpace that the plaintiff collects antique Jaguar cars, and is president of a Jaguar club. Vance also saw compromising photos that showed the plaintiff is not the family man he claimed to be. The plaintiff also talked about the case and the judge on the site.

”I make it a practice to use as many sources as I can come up with to find information about the other side,” Vance said. ”We used to run LexisNexis; we still do that. We always look at cases, and now we use the Internet — Google, and social networking sites.”

The article suggested, however, that older lawyers as well as more conservative law firms might be left behind in the Web 2.0 revolution. My co-blogger Robert Ambrogi, who's quoted in the article, emphasizes that law firms that ignore social media do so at their peril:

When you have an institution not addressing social networking it overlooks the fact that any number of people are involved in social networking,” Ambrogi said. ”It’s important that law firms wake up and smell the coffee because this is happening all around them and they should be a part of it.

The article is fairly extensive and quotes the experience of many others so take a look at the full piece.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 6, 2009 at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)

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