September 4th, 2013

speaker, coach, consultant

Should lawyers bother with social media?

Yes and no.

Well... that's not much help!

So...

The problem: firms haven't got a handle on Brand You, and think that they need to maintain control with the ubiquitous top down model.

For those firms that have adopted a more relaxed approach, they are content to allow those lawyers who see a window to a different world to have their say but heaven help them if they put a foot wrong.

I recognise this is a flimsy answer, and, if I'm pressed, I am bound to say that unless and until lawyers learn to lay down their 'we will not show our personality guard', it's highly unlikely that many of them will dive into the space, let alone see it as the best marketing opportunity in the world.

Perhaps I have it all wrong.

Lawyers are serious people.

They have to deliver advice in an impartial way.

And to reveal too much of their true self exposes them to all sorts of career-ending issues.

I can buy that as someone who had to confront clients who only ever instructed me so that they could be guaranteed of a successful claim if they didn't get the outcome they expected.

But hang on a minute.

People buy from people and just because you happen to share some of you on a blog or Twitter or Instagram doesn't make you any less a lawyer.

I know. It's the billable hour that gets in the way. Of course it does but only because you let it. Having been round the track a few times, I can't remember the last time I saw a lawyer fired for not coming up to the fees delivered/WIP mark. Let's face it if your latest blog led you to develop a new stream of work, would it be so easy for the finance partner to climb all over you?

If I were still in practice I know I would be faced with all sorts of issues, not least the fact that I would forever have to stay on message. It would be huge struggle. But to build a tribe requires risk. If all you do is write the same boring stuff as every other lawyer then what reason do I have to follow you? As a client, I want something that inspires. Call it thought leadership. But I would want someone who poked and prodded sufficiently for me to question the status quo. Reading a dry as sawdust Supreme Court decision wouldn't float my or anyone else's boat. Think about it.

For many lawyers they are stuck. They stand on the side-lines and aren't sure what to do. I can shout, scream and excoriate but you have to want to engage. In simple terms social media is about working on your personal brand and not defaulting to the firm constantly. Sure, if you work for a firm that has a massive reputation you may be quite happy to trot out the time honoured label.

Me?

My reputation is my reputation.

It resides with me.

And my inspiration will power my efforts.

If I were running a law firm right now, apart from ensuring a WOW service, sound financial discipline and super-duper compliance (yawn), I would make sure that every single lawyer was social media savvy.

This would mean:

  1. I would initiate the best training programme in the industry

  2. I would include social media as part of the pay and performance criteria

  3. People would be freed up to write, blog, speak and connect

  4. There would be a proper return on investment programme linked closely to the firm's goals

  5. I would make sure it was fun!

Let's face it, all this stuff looks pretty basic when you look outside law. And that's the point. As I've maintained for a long time, rather than lament the lack of a unique position in the market let you local, national and international social media efforts do the talking.

Take it from me, there exists a massive opportunity. It's up to you to go grab it.

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