Archive for December, 2010

Twitter for Legal Bus Dev – All Hype?

December 31, 2010

When I talk with attorneys and legal marketers about using social media as a marketing tool, mostly people are respectful of LinkedIn and blogs.  They mostly are dismissive of Facebook and Twitter. Adrian Dayton in this post about the value of Twitter for attorneys, makes the excellent point that typically it takes at least seven touches with a potential client before they will reach out and buy from you.  He suggests that Twitter can help to fill in some of those touch points – send a quick alert to potential clients about new developments in the law, or a blog post or online article link to someone you know would be interested.

Even more than that

I would say that beyond that approach, you need to communicate with your potential clients in the way they are most comfortable. If you know some of your clients are very active on Twitter, then it makes sense to use this medium also.  Same with Facebook. Now, if they are mostly having fun with these sites – posting recipes, photos of their new dogs – then inserting a business related item into their status stream, maybe inappropriate.  But if they seem to use these tools for everything, then you might want to do that as well.

Prediction for 2011? More Lawyer Videos

December 30, 2010

Services unlike products are intangible.   If I want a phone with Android software, I can go to a phone store and try out the various options.  But typically, I can’t test out a lawyer without paying for them.  Some offer 30 minute of free consultation but that’s quite a commitment.  I’d rather be able to look at their website and figure out if I like and trust them but cold text doesn’t give me much information.

Video, video, video

Increasingly, attorneys are turning to videos and I think the improvement in video technology and their popularity will fuel the video trend begun last year and ramp up the use of video in 2011.  A few signs of this trend:

Video for lawyer seminars

Google Videositemaps

Ease of making professinal videos

 

Florida Student Wins Facebook Fight

December 28, 2010

A Florida high school student who posted that her AP English teacher was, “the worst teacher I’ve ever met” and got suspended from school for three days has won a settlement paying her legal fees and getting the suspension wiped off her school record.

The court had agreed that this was protected First Amendment speech as it was, off-campus, causing no disruptions at school, wasn’t vulgar and not advocating violent or illegal behavior.

School districts across the country are struggling with developing social media policies that maintain order and a safe educational environment while at the same time guaranteeing students and staff their First Amendment rights.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a first amendment case involving Facebook and a school district ends up as a landmark Supreme Court free speech precedent.

Professionals & Social Media

December 27, 2010

Here are a couple stories about non-attorney professionals and social networking.  Both point out that social networking is becoming a mainstream marketing tool but that all professionals need to proceed with caution.

The article on doctors suggests they focus on creating a Facebook group promoting patient education and informing them about new services.  The article also warns about issues of professionalism and privacy.  Though nothing specifically about advertising.  Do doctors not have rules restricting advertising?

The article on accountants suggest they have moved along way on social networking – 60% have engaged in social networking and more than 40% have written policies.  Unlike doctors, they have flocked to LinkedIn – more than 75% have LinkedIn profiles.

What can Lawyers Learn from Other Professionals?

  • Focus on your audience in choosing the appropriate social networking outlet
  • Don’t hide your head in sand – learn to use social networking in a thoughtful commonsense approach

Commerce Dept. Joins FTC in Privacy Arena

December 24, 2010

Amidst the fanfare with which the FTC’s privacy framework was released earlier this month, the U.S. Commerce Department’s own report which focuses a bit more on making sure that privacy standards aren’t so restrictive that they squelch economic growth but are strong enough to make consumer comfortable with online activity.  If consumer distrust over privacy grows, this could squelch business activity on the Internet no matter how lenient the privacy policies are.

BusDev Tips for Attorneys in 2011

December 23, 2010

Here is an okay article providing tips to young attorneys on business development issues.  Its just okay because the suggestions provided are so superficial as to be useless.

Example:

“Identify the types of people who will bring you work and target your efforts to them. If you are a business lawyer, networking with other business lawyers will only take you so far; you need to meet businesspeople — the consumers of your legal services.”

How?

This advice is an excellent start but neglects to address two essentials questions – how to find out the right places to network and how to network effectively?

1.  Find the right place to network – start small and learn the basics of networking. This can be Business Networking International (BNI) or the Rotary or many other networking groups.

2. Give yourself at least a year in any organization. It takes time for people to get a sense of you are and for you to know who they are.  Also it takes time to understand the referral process – who most naturally works with other people.  Its not always a matter of complimentary businesses. Sometime its based on a personal affinities.

3. Make sure where-ever you network that there is accountability as part of the process – yours and others.  Any group that lets you come and go as you please, isn’t much use.  People need to be accountable to network because its hard to get yourself to a meeting on a voluntary basis. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it but if your membership is on the line, you will do it anyway.

4. Listen, listen, listen: What are people saying and how do they say it?  Part of listening is to pay attention to body language.  When you tell people what you do, are their eyes glazing over?  Do they turn away?  Do they quickly change the subject?  These are all signs that you need to improve your quick pitch about your business.  Keep working on it.  Networking will improve how you talk about what you do.  At first I stumbled and looked away, my voice dropped and I communicated nervousness and discomfort.  Now I speak up, look the person in the eye and express my gratitude for getting a chance to give them information about myself.  And the responses I get are much more positive.

5.  Refer thoughtfully and often: You are much more valuable if you are someone who knows lots of great professionals and are willing to help out those in need.  Go to networking events listening for how you can help others with their business problems – regardless of whether its a lawyer who can solve their problem.

Facebook’s Beacon Dispute: Neverending

December 22, 2010

More than a year ago, I blogged about the Facebook’s settlement over a class action lawsuit involving its short-lived and controversial advertising program, called “Beacon.”

And still there are disputes.  This week, Facebook responded to a challenge to the settlement from an attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, claiming that Facebook will wield too much power over this association.  Not if it never gets off the ground it won’t!

Are Facebook Pages Hard to Authenticate?

December 21, 2010

I have blogged about cases where issues have arisen about whether Facebook information that has been restricted to a limited number of people is discoverable but here is a discussion about another side of the issue – how do you get Facebook and other social networking information admitted as evidence?

Difference of Opinion

A judge is quoted as dubious both of the value of Facebook profile data and the likelihood of getting such information authenticated. However, several lawyers say that the evidence is typically self-authenticated by the Facebook profile owner and that it is often quite useful, better than second hand conversations.

What Does This Mean?

That we are in a transitional period as far as social networking and litigation. Jurisdictions, judges, lawyers and the like are still sorting through how social networking will be treated by the legal system. Understanding all the arguments, pro and con, is probably the most important thing at this point rather than asserting certainties that don’t exist.

Quality Content Helps Your SEO

December 20, 2010

We are passing through the time where loading a blog with content filled with keywords and little else will help your search result standings.  As this Nolo blog post states, Google has changed its ranking algorithm to focus on quality rather than merely quantity. 

How Does This Impacts Lawyers?

If you have a blog called, “Personal Injury San Jose” and feature posts about recent car crashes with a boiler plate paragraph at the bottom about why you should contact an attorney immediately if you are the victim of such an accident, then this is bad news.  However, if you provide quality articles about how people can work with their car insurance adjusters and ways they can protect themselves through how they purchase their insurance, then you probably are helped by these rules.  Google is looking to promote content which contains professional and technical expertise rather than that which is merely saturated with keywords.

CA Attorneys Beware Working in Coffee Shops

December 19, 2010

New California Bar Ethics opinion on whether an attorney violates rules of confidentiality by performing client work on an open wireless network.  The opinion makes clear that if the attorney has their own firewall and security loaded on their laptop, then performing this work may not be an issue.

What is less clear is whether the opinion is talking about wireless networks without any security or if the coffee shop requires a password, that would pass muster.  My guess is it would not because if the same password is available to all those working in the coffee, then this isn’t confidential.

Opinion here


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