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Practice Corner: To Tweet or Not to Tweet

by Daniel DeWoskin

Trial Attorney

Thanks to my brilliant paralegal, I have overcome my reluctance and have embraced the idea of incorporating social media into my law practice, management and marketing. You must understand that I have resisted doing this for years now despite urging from my colleagues and friends. Regardless of the success of other lawyers who have been doing this forever, I stayed in my shell and shut out all the information that has been thrown my way at CLE conventions year in and year out.

So what were my fears? Well, for one thing, although I long ago learned to be myself when dealing with clients, judges, opposing counsel, and most importantly juries, I have always been cautious about sharing my personal opinions with the world. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my particular views in any given topic, but I wouldn’t want to alienate potential clients or others just because of some perception about who I am based entirely on one stated position.

Let’s face it, irrespective of our ideologies as lawyers, we have and do represent clients who subscribe to vastly different political and social ideologies. This is the way things should be. Can you imagine how few clients we would have if we only sought out people who thought, behaved, or lived as we do? Frankly, finding a lawyer would be as difficult for clients as finding true love. Just as I have friends who do not share my every opinion, I have clients with a wide array of their own ideas, opinions, and experiences.

Now, I have begun to integrate my social media with my law practice. I post articles that I find interesting as a lawyer, as a voter, as a citizen, as a parent, or as any one of the other roles I fulfill in any given day. Sure, there are some moments when I have to use discretion in the way I refer to something or comment on an article or post. This is not all that different from how we all relate to people around us. We speak to our friends in a different manner than we do jurors or our co-workers. This doesn’t mean we are being duplicitous, but that we acknowledge that there are times and places where we have to be more or less formal given certain circumstances.

The trick to using social media is understanding how to use filters so that different groups of people can access only what you wish them to access. Should clients be able to see your family photographs or read personal banter? This is a question for you alone to decide, but keep in mind that there is a permanence that can be detrimental to you or your practice. Furthermore, it’s not just your own comments that may offend, but there are some folks you have as “friends” that can also put you in an awkward spot.

You may already be able to tell, but I have some “friends” that are less judicious with their opinions or language. They can be unapologetically abrasive and can offend those who don’t know them as well as I do. However, by learning more about social media, I have learned how to compartmentalize my home and work status. For the most part, I have found that the articles that interest my audience as a lawyer will also often interest my friends. On rare occasions, there has been some minor friction, usually stemming from some political op-Ed, but isn’t that simply a barometer of what is going on every single day in our country and our communities these days?

While it’s true that social media seems a bit daunting at first glance, the value of its existence to business is immense. Whether you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some other social media tool out there, the ability to connect with a whole new market of potential clients and colleagues presents enormous opportunity for you to define yourself as a lawyer and define your law practice image. The value of engaging in social media is clearly that it reminds friends, and friends of friends, about what it is we do. It helps them realize where we have specialized knowledge and skill sets that may be very useful to them. In the end, it can translate to new contacts, new clients, and growth for your business. I should also say that it is fun and can consume more of your time than is advisable, but that’s also for you to determine. Ultimately, it isn’t going away anytime soon, so why not step forward and embrace it? After all, it can be the least expensive component of any law firm’s marketing. So, what are you waiting for?

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