June 09, 2009 Volume: 155 Issue: 112
Reprinted by permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Co: http://www.chicagolawbulletin.com
Lawyers flock to social media sites to subtly pitch their services
By Jerry Crimmins
Law Bulletin staff writer
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs continue to blossom as marketing tools, several Chicago lawyers say, while the publisher of the Yellow Pages files for bankruptcy.
“I’m Evan Brown, an Intellectual Property and Technology Attorney in Chicago, Illinois … follow me on Twitter or call me at …” says the first page of Evan D. Brown’s blog at InternetCases.com.
“I’m also on Facebook and LinkedIn,” Brown’s blog states. Brown, at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, is 34.
“Welcome to Saper Law Offices. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter,” says the home page of Saper Law Offices. The principal, Daliah Saper, is 28.
Lawyer Kevin A. Thompson, who practices trademark, copyright and Internet law at Davis, McGrath LLC, has his profile on LinkedIn and posts on Twitter as a form of legal marketing. He, too, writes a blog.
“10 Years of the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act], a look at current trends in Web site operator liability,” is the lead item on Thompson’s CyberlawCentral blog.
It links to his May 15 speech at the Chicago Bar Association.
“I do have a Facebook profile,” Thompson added, “but I try to keep that personal.”
Thompson is 38.
While the Yellow Pages loses popularity, younger attorneys seek ways to get their names on the Internet in as many, positive mentions as possible.
“One big advantage of these social media tools or writing a blog,” states Brown of Hinshaw, is that “you can put information about yourself, your expertise, about your practice that’s available to people not in your immediate space, but to anyone who’s looking online for that information.”
Thus it’s a free form of advertising that can be out there for a long time where a potential client may stumble across it.
Brown writes for two blogs, his own InternetCases, which he said he does on his own time, and PracticalEDiscovery.com, operated by his law firm. He contributes to the latter on company time.
Facebook, Brown explained, is “a way to stay in the minds of those people who are in my personal network.”
“If I’m headed over to the Chicago Bar Association to give a talk about copyright law, I’ll be sure to mention that on my Facebook page so my friends on Facebook are reminded I’m a lawyer; I practice copyright law; I’m passionate enough about it to undertake speaking engagements on the topic.”
“I’ve been using Twitter since May of 2007,” Brown added. “It’s making its way into our modern, everyday awareness.”
He said major news networks and Oprah now use Twitter.
Thompson describes Twitter as a “micro-blogging platform. Your posts are very short. Each Tweet, as they call it, can only be 140 characters, maybe two sentences.
“There is a certain number of people you follow” who post messages on Twitter, “and a certain number of people that follow you back,” Thompson said.
These lawyers say they post links to interesting articles on Twitter, perhaps articles they themselves wrote, or they comment on something someone else has written. They also tell others what they’re up to, or search for what others have written on a given subject to see what’s talked about.
The business purpose, Thompson stated, is “getting better known within a certain group of people as an expert in your particular field. It’s more reputational enhancement, if used properly.”
“Perhaps,” Thompson said, someone you talk to on Twitter “will trust you more the next time they actually need help on an issue.”’
For other business marketing, Thompson said he prefers LinkedIn over Facebook.
“LinkedIn is much more professional-based” and business oriented, in Thompson’s view.
Individual profiles that people post on LinkedIn are more like resumes, Thompson said.
“If you need to get hold of somebody in ABC company, and you don’t know anybody directly, but perhaps one of your friends does,” you can introduce yourself indirectly through LinkedIn.com, Thompson said.
Saper offers her own PowerPoint presentation on her Saper Law Offices Web site on the problems social internet media cause for employers. It’s entitled, “Introduction to Legal Implications Surrounding Social Media.”
But she is a big user of it.
“For my business,” said Saper, “the best has been Facebook and Twitter,” although she also uses LinkedIn.
“Twitter is a great way to connect with other people in my industry,” Saper said. “My practice areas are heavily related to social networking, new media, intellectual property, Web based businesses.”
Her office Web site has the general appearance of an active legal blog.
One day recently, the Saper office’s Web site displayed a string of recent Twitter messages related to the firm, quick shorthand, similar to telephone text messages. The headline said, “Follow Saper Law On Twitter!”
Saper said she spends about an hour a day on social media, partly through her Blackberry.
The Chicago Lawyer Network is a brand new, professional networking site from Law Bulletin Publishing Company and the Chicago Lawyer Magazine. Unlike LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, this new service is for lawyers only, and non-lawyers are not permitted to join. It offers groups, forums, events and blogs.
Martindale-Hubbell Connected is another networking site, which that firm says is also “designed exclusively for legal professionals.”
Martindale-Hubbell Connected “requires you to be a member. There is some cost associated with that,” Brown noted. “Your ability to use it is based on the level of your membership. Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Twitter are all free.”
Does online social networking work? Thompson said he got a client through his blog, and Saper said she recently got a client through Twitter.
The Chicago Lawyer Network is also free. Inquiries can be made to 312-644-7008 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.