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Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 2

Last week I spoke at an Incisive Media conference in New York City, “Social Media Risks and Rewards.”

It was an extremely interesting conference, attended primarily by general counsel of large corporations. The topics discussed varied, but focused on the use of social media to promote brand names and products, and the legal issues encountered when doing so.

As I listened to the speakers discuss large-scale social media campaigns, it occurred to me that using social media to promote a law practice is fundamentally different from promoting goods, online products or Web sites.

Lawyers seek to promote their professional services and increase the strength of their online presence whereas the underlying goal for most product promotions is to gain a large scale following of evangelists who will spread the word organically about your product. Lawyers, accordingly, need to approach social media with specific goals in mind.

The first step to creating an effective presence online is to set up profiles at online directories and social media platforms, as I explained in last week’s column.

The next step is to determine your goals, so that you may participate in social media in a targeted, efficient manner.

Blogs are one of the best ways to target your efforts, as long as you enjoy the process of writing. Blogs can showcase an attorney’s expertise and increase his or her rankings in search engine results.

Search engines seek out and rank higher Web pages that provide relevant content and are  linked frequently to by other Web sites, and updated regularly. Blogs satisfy all of those requirements.

Naturally the writer would use relevant key words when focusing on subjects relevant to his or her areas of practice, recent events, news items and posts from other blogs or cases. When the blog is linked to other bloggers’ content, those bloggers likely will return the favor.

A blog can be set up rather easily through the use of services such as or, but assistance from a company that sets up and designs legal blogs, such as or, also can be sought. Blog posts
can be publicized on the attorney’s other social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Those who aren’t comfortable with the idea of blogging can still participate in social media by using online legal forums to expand a professional network and/or obtain information relevant to specific areas of practice. A large variety of practice area groups are active on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

Another option is to join online networking sites devoted to the legal field, such as Lawlink (, Martindale-Hubbell’s “Connected”( and the American Bar Association’s legal network, “Legally Minded” (

An online presence can be expanded by distributing content and showcasing work product by uploading documents to Filings, decisions, articles, newsletters, blog entries, presentations and media coverage all can be uploaded.

After that, JDSupra makes it easy to distribute the content to any profiles you’ve already set up on LinkedIn, Facebook and, if applicable, Twitter.

Twitter can be a useful social media platform for some attorneys, depending on their goals. For those with a national client base, Twitter is ideal. If your potential client base is local and you live in a large metropolitan area, Twitter also may work for you.

Twitter is a great place to increase a professional network and obtain cutting-edge information relevant to a law practice or other areas of interest. Attorneys on Twitter can interact with other attorneys worldwide, CEOs of major companies, innovators and thought leaders in all professions, as well as editors and journalists for major publications.

The key to Twitter success —or success with any other social media platform —is to set aside a small block of time each day to participate. When you do interact, be genuine, honest, kind and generous. Don’t be afraid to share your personal interests, such as sports, food and wine or any other hobbies. Doing so makes you more personable and approachable.

It’s not difficult to create an effective online presence for a law practice. Although an attorney’s strategies may differ from those used to promote national brands or products, targeted social media interaction can be a very effective way to network and promote a practice.

I'll be in New York City on 10/8


On Thursday, October 8th, 2009 I'm going to be speaking at the "Social Media for Lawyers I" conference which is being held at New York Law School from 8-11 a.m. I'm also arranging a meetup that evening at 7--see below for details.

This conference offers a unique and highly targeted look at social media. A panel of legal experts who have become leaders in the social media arena will offer hands on sessions as well as leading sessions on the inherent risks, limitations and potential vulnerabilities and liabilities of these social media tools.

I'll be speaking on this panel with Lisa Solomon: "6 Things Lawyers Need to Know About Social Media.

As a speaker, I've been authorized to offer my readers a 25% discount using this code: 20OAGEIA .

You can register for the conference here. Remember to use the discount code!

I'm also organizing a NYC legal professionals meetup on Oct 8, 2009, location to be determined by a native New Yorker, but it will be somewhere near the law school. 

If you're on Twitter, you can RSVP for the meetup here or simply leave me a note in the comments and I'll be sure to keep you in the loop.

Creating an Effective Online Presence for Lawyers, Part 1


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Creating an effective online presence for lawyers, Part 1."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


I’m going to be speaking about lawyers and social media at a number of conferences over the next few months in Rochester, New York City and Los Angeles.

For that reason, this topic has been on my mind recently. From past speaking engagements, I’ve learned lawyers are becoming increasingly curious about social media, but know very little about it. Most law firms understand the importance of having an online presence, but are wary of “social networking” and, as a result, have only a static Web page for their law firm.

I want to share how a firm can expand its online presence by using free Web directories and networking sites. Next week I plan to tackle how to determine whether it makes sense for a firm’s attorneys to participate in social and professional networking sites and forums, and which ones will help to achieve specific goals.

Lawyers with a static Web site as their online presence are missing out. In just a few hours they could easily increase their reach online by taking advantage of many effective and free online resources, directories and social and professional networks.

The first step is to create profiles for every lawyer in the firm at a number of leading, free online lawyer directories.

The profiles simply are online resumes. By creating online profiles, a firm can piggyback on the larger Web site’s SEO (search engine optimization), and thereby appear higher in search engine results, all at no cost to the firm.

The three most prominent directories are Avvo (, the Justia and Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School legal directory ( and Findlaw’s attorney directory (http://flcas.find

I regularly receive client inquiries as a result of having an attorney profile on those Web sites. It’s free to create a profile and only takes a few minutes to do so. Every lawyer at the firm should be listed at those sites.

Firms also should encourage every lawyer to create and maintain profiles on Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a global social networking site that allows anyone to join. Individual lawyers can connect with people they know, including those with whom they have lost contact. In other words, after creating a simple profile in a matter of minutes, a lawyer can connect with everyone from his or her past, including former classmates, long lost relatives —you name it. The platform also is quite good at locating people whom you might know based on the people with whom you already have a connection.

Why is that a good thing for lawyers? Because they have a long lost network that spans the globe! People who know you but have lost track of you over time now will
know you’re an attorney. You will receive messages from old friends and from relatives seeking legal counsel — either for themselves or on behalf of a friend in your town.

Breathing life into those lost connections is priceless, and Facebook is a unique platform that makes it possible. Do not pass up the opportunity.

All lawyers in the firm also should have a LinkedIn profile, simply an online resume that takes only a few minutes to create. The platform then assists in locating professional contacts

Even if nothing else is done with this platform, a LinkedIn profile is a worthwhile addition to a firm’s online presence. Each attorney’s profile appears near the top of search engine results because of LinkedIn’s excellent SEO.

There are several networking aspects to Facebook, LinkedIn and other online platforms, if that is deemed a worthwhile use of time.

Next week I’ll share how to determine just what types of online participation will be most beneficial to achieving goals set for you and your law firm.

Live and Let Live.


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Live and let live."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Live and let live

“You can checkout any time you like,
But you can never leave!”


For the most part, lawyers are not a happy bunch.

Our profession’s depression rates are amongst the highest, as are our rates of drug and alcohol abuse.

The practice of law can be a thankless job, the hours are long, and attorneys are subject to arbitrary, unpredictable court schedules and judge’s whims.

Clients, the very heart of our business and without whom we would have no income, can make our job all the more frustrating. In many cases, however, the high frustration levels are not the fault of our clients, rather they arise out of the circumstances that lead those clients to retain us in the first place.

One of my favorite lawyer jokes highlights the phenomenon:

George and Harry set out in a hot air balloon, soon realizing they were lost.

“We had better lose some altitude Harry so we can see exactly where we are.”

Harry lets some hot air out of the balloon, and it begins to slowly descend below the cloud cover.

He yells down to a stranger on the ground, “Hey, Mister can you tell us where we are?”

“You’re in a balloon about 100 feet up in the air,” came the reply.

“You must be a lawyer,” replied George. “The advice you just gave us is 100 percent accurate and totally useless!”

“You must be a client,” the man on the ground yelled back, “You don’t know where you are, you got into your predicament through a lack of planning, which could have been avoided by asking for help before you acted and you expect me to provide an instant remedy. You’re in the exact same position you were in before we met, but somehow it’s now my fault.”

The moral of the story? It’s not easy being a lawyer.

For that reason, a number of lawyers, when learning of my  intent to attend law school after college, advised me not to do it, citing many of the reasons I discussed above.

Interestingly, many of those very same lawyers were quite vocal in their condemnation of my decision to take a hiatus from the legal field after having my first child.

At the time, I was disillusioned with my career choice, overwhelmed with work/life balance issues and ready for a change. A brief hiatus seemed like the perfect opportunity to clear my head and find a new career path.

I was surprised at the vehement disagreement other attorneys expressed regarding my decision. It was as though my personal decision was an act of betrayal. I chose to be inducted into this suicide-pact and leaving it was not an acceptable choice.

My subsequent return to the practice of law on a less-than-full-time basis, and my decision to write and consult about legal technology issues, also met with derision, albeit this time from lawyers online whom I’ve not yet had the pleasure to meet in person.

For some strange reason I cannot quite comprehend, my personal and career choices somehow have disrupted the force and resulted in unrelenting scrutiny.

I knowingly turned my back on the unhappy fraternity we call the legal profession and defied the norm by returning to the legal field in a non-traditional manner.

Now, I realize other attorneys’ criticism of my choices is inevitable. 

I reluctantly accept the phenomenon. It’s the unfortunate price I must pay for forging my own path to happiness.

lawtechTalk Episode #5-Cloud Computing and Your Law Practice

Checkmark The fifth episode of lawtechTalk is now available. 

This presentation will focus on three different types of online legal technologies.  In it I'll discuss the concept of "cloud computing" and explore the main features of  each to help you figure out which will best meet your law firm's needs.

This episode is a little over one hour long and is sponsored by the three companies featured in the screencast: VLOTech (a virtual law office platform), NKrypt (offers a secure, encrypted email network), and NetDocuments (online document management) and for a limited time, is available at no cost. 

As a reader of my blog, you can simply click here to access this episode, instead of contacting me for information regarding how to access it.

Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media


This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.


Promote Legal Conferences With Social Media

Attendance has been down this year for many legal conferences, in large part due to budget cuts at law firms due to the economic recession.

Legal conference planners need not despair: Individual lawyers can be convinced to cough up their own money to attend upcoming conferences. That can be accomplished by thinking outside of the box, and delivering highly-targeted, effective promotions directly to lawyers through non-traditional media.

Specifically, conference organizers must utilize social media to reach lawyers. Many have started to do so by using their organization’s social media presence.

The strategy is not particularly effective, however, since attorneys who are following an organization likely are already planning to attend the conference. You are preaching to the choir when you disseminate information about the conference to those attorneys.

A more forward-thinking approach that will pay off in the long-run —both for this year’s conference and for future years’ events —is to set aside a small portion of your advertising budget to engage the promotional services of a handful of legal professionals with a strong online presence and following.

Just offering such an influential group a free pass to the conference isn’t enough to convince them to attend.

A few legal organizations have taken that approach over the last year, and met with minimal success.

The vast majority of legal influencers online already have free access to many conferences, either because they’re speaking or are eligible for press passes as a result of their online, and offline, reporting. To ensure this group’s attendance at, and promotion of, your conference, you need to offer to pay for, at the very least, their transportation and hotel expenses.

In return, you can expect them to promote the conference in the weeks preceding it, cover the conference via their blogs and Twitter, and publish articles and blog posts about the conference after it ends.

The benefit of engaging the promotional services of this group of online leaders is priceless: They already have large followings in the legal community because people find them to be interesting and thought-provoking. Many are influencers in the legal
field and people read their tweets, blogs, articles and books for the latest, cutting edge assessment of legal issues and trends.

Their followers listen to them, respect them, like them and, most importantly, are receptive to them.

When lawyers with a strong online presence promote and attend a conference, their followers are more likely to attend the same conference and also will help to spread the word about the conference. You should request that the handful of lawyers you’ve retained for this purpose promote the conference in tandem, months ahead of the conference, thereby reaching an even larger audience of potential attendees.

The online buzz that can be created by online legal influencers is unparalleled, especially if you ensure that a few of the people whom you retain have a strong Twitter following in the legal community. (A list of can be found at

Their tweets about the conference will be re-tweeted multiple times, increasing the likelihood that the conference hashtag will become a trending topic on Twitter.

As any good conference organizer also knows, legal conferences are about more than just learning. Attendees also expect to network with their peers, and have fun.

Lawyers with strong online followings facilitate the social aspect of conferences in ways never possible before social media became popular.

They can create buzz by organizing after-hours events via social media. Such gatherings allow people who have followed the online influencers the opportunity to get to know them better, and to interact with other attendees with similar interests. Such events tend to have large turnouts and continue on well into the evening. Social barriers are overcome quickly due to people’s familiarity with one another through social media, and a good time, always, is had by all.

The bottom line? If you’re able to secure the attendance of a handful of online legal influencers at your conference, you will reap the benefits many times over.

Make your conference the place to be. Be creative, mix things up a little and use social media to your advantage. If you do it correctly, your conference will be the one no one will want to miss.