Author Archives: jlawson

Primer on Building Professional Relationships Online

Columnists Ken Chan and David Kemp join Tim Stanley, CEO of Justia, in How to Build Great Professional Relationships Online, an introductory article for Law Practice Today about social media for lawyers. Here are the trio’s comments about Google+:

Google+ is Google’s foray into the social networking space. Like the other networks, Google+ allows you to create a public profile, post and view updates and photos, and connect with people you know. Google+ is similar to a combination of Facebook and Twitter. It is like Facebook in that you can view others’ posts as a news stream with graphics and text, and like Twitter in that people can unilaterally choose to follow the updates of others on the network (in Google+ this is called adding someone to a circle).

While Google+ does not attract as many active users as Facebook, the network offers other important benefits. Setting up a Google+ profile can impact how Google presents your Web pages or blog posts in its search results. This is a compelling reason to be on Google+.  For example, if you publish an article online with the appropriate authorship markup, Google will display your Google+ profile picture and name next to the article in its search results. Associating your Google+ profile with your blog or Website can distinguish the appearance of your content from other search results, leading to more attention and visitor traffic.

As with LinkedIn and Facebook, be sure to completely fill out your Google+ profile, and make sure that at least your name, location, work, and education can be seen by anyone by setting it to “public.” Also make sure to include links to all of your other individual online profiles, as well as other online media properties to which you contribute.

Similarly to LinkedIn, Google+ sees the highest use by employees and executives in the technology sector, and thus technology- and IP-focused law firms stand to benefit most from this network. However, attorneys in all practice areas should take advantage of Google+ for its authorship and search benefits.

Finally, Google is also integrating Google+ with Google Places and Maps. It is important that you claim and fill out your Google+ business page with information about your practice.  You should also associate your Google+ business page with your website to share “+1s” between the two.

Creating Your Own Letterhead

Lawyerist caters to our do-it-yourself impulses with an article on creating your own professional-looking letterhead:

While you may have to use a commercial printer for business cards, you do not necessarily need professionally-printed letterhead. If you already have a logo, you don’t even need professionally-designed letterhead; you can just DIY.

This is especially true when you consider that most correspondence never gets printed, and a lot of correspondence does not go out on letterhead in the first place. This makes DIY letterhead an increasingly defensible choice. Using resources like Typography for Lawyers, a few Word tips, and perhaps a bit of well-placed graphic design help, you can design your own letterhead.

via DIY Law Firm Letterhead Using Microsoft Word.

Blogs v. Social Media

My friend Kevin O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs is a consistent source of good ideas about lawyer use of the Internet, with a post comparing the impact of social media and blogging a recent highlight. One anecdote in particular rings true:

One law firm marketing professional told me today that when he suggests Twitter with lawyers in his firm he gets a look like he is suggesting MySpace. In a presentation yesterday I asked an audience of about fifty lawyers how many use Twitter. One sheepishly raised his hand to shoulder height.

Some might discount Kevin’s perspective because his business supports blogs for lawyers. That would be a mistake. Kevin is right on target, as usual. Social media can have a big impact, but blogs provide advantages not possible through social media alone.

[A] blog is the only way you can demonstrate your knowledge, experience, and care. A blog establishes trust based on your empathy for your audience knowing what’s of value of to them.

A blog builds your influence in niche areas. First in the way we’ve always looked at influence, in a subjective way, ie, she’s an influence lawyer in the patent litigation arena. Second, and perhaps more importantly, influence for high rankings on Google, with its Hummingbird update.

There are any number of other advantages of blogging over other social media. Where do I go to find a record of your insight over the last three years without a blog? How do you share your ‘social media’ with a client via an email? I can strategically share a blog post by email. How do others cite you without a blog? How do people share your content without a blog?

In may last two trips to New York City I am seeing a growing trend in large law to focus on blogging at the expense of other social media/networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.

Firms are seeing value in blogging. Blogging makes total sense to them. Leading lawyers have always written and spoken. Blogging feels like a natural extension of this form of business development.

Other forms of social media, though very effective as an adjunct to blogging, feel a little beneath a ‘lawyer’ to many firms. Right or wrong, they don’t want to jump into other social media right now.

Social media and blogs should complement and reinforce each other, but if you could only have one, most lawyers would probably be better off with blogs.

Create a LinkedIn Action Plan

There are good reasons why LinkedIn has become the overwhelming favorite social media tool for lawyers. Nobody understands this better than Dennis Kennedy and Allison C. Shields. The first edition of their LinkedIn book by was one of the better legal technology books I’ve read in years.

The Second Edition of LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers promises to be even better. For a taste of the benefits, check out the Law Technology Today excerpt, Create a LinkedIn Action Plan.

Is Security A Selling Point? Ask the Post Office

Does knowing how to use encryption and digital signatures when necessary give an advantage in the marketplace? Even 15 years ago some lawyers found this to be the case. With revelations of security breaches and systematic NSA monitoring, lawyers who know how to use encryption and its cousin, digital signatures, even more of a marketing advantage.

In an attempt to adjust to this new reality, the U.S. Postal Service has trademarked multiple encryption-related trade names:

One brand name filed Sept. 6, “United States Postal Service Digital Services,” would consist of, among other things, “tamper-detection capabilities” for safeguarding electronic documents, audio and videos.

A more generic “United States Digital Services” trademark, submitted for consideration on Aug. 16, would include fax transmissions “featuring encryption and decryption.”

The name also would cover “electronic mail services in the field of financial transactions,” which presumably could generate Wall Street sales for an agency that has lost $3.9 billion so far this fiscal year.

The filing proposes verifying the identities of people transmitting information — and, vice versa, confirming intended recipients have received unadulterated information — through a practice called “security printing.” The technique codes identification information on valuable documents and products.

Much more on this important issue later.

User Frustration => Security Weaknesses => Breaches

User friendliness: An overlooked security enhancement. A study shows that frustrated users who circumvent security measures create  half of all security breaches:

As security measures become less user friendly, they also become less effective. Cyber security professionals estimate that almost half (49 percent) of all agency security breaches are caused by a lack of user compliance. …

Not only do end users experience challenges with the applications they use daily, many of the activities they must perform as part of their daily work also cause frustration. The activities that cyber security professionals say are the most likely to cause a security breach are the same activities where end users run into the most frustrating security measures. The top areas for cyber security professionals’ concern and end users’ frustration are surfing the internet, downloading files, accessing networks, and transferring files.

End users say cyber security measures hinder their productivity and as a result admit to breaking protocol. Sixty-six percent of end users believe the security protocols at their agency are burdensome and time-consuming. Sixty-nine percent say at least some portion of their work takes longer than it should due to security measures. Nearly one in five end users can recall an instance where they were unable to complete a work assignment on time because of a security measure. As a result, 31% of end users say they use some kind of security work around at least once a week.

Technethics or Same Old Ethics in Different Garb?

The Lawyerist article Astroturfing to Technethics, the New Vocabulary of Ethics explains several phrases gaining prominence as lawyers increasingly use technology. For example, “astroturfing” refers to phony positive user reviews.

In a comment, Carolyn Elefant takes exception to one of the terms, “technethics.” It arguably implies that technology creates a new standard for judging ethics conduct:

 [T]he ethics of social media are no different from ethics in the real world – the same rules apply in the ethics sphere. Once we start creating categories for special use rules, we make it more difficult for lawyers to use their discretion to evaluate the rules and determine how they apply – and instead, will have them wait for the bars to issue guidance, which as I’ve blogged at MyShingle is foolhardy.

The New “Word of Mouth” Marketing

At the estimable Attorney at Work site, Mike Ramsey gives some great tips for monitoring your reputation in online media, but first, he explains why it is absolutely necessary:

A June 2013 study by BrightLocal found that almost 80 percent of consumers trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations. With those numbers trending up each year, and the understanding that Google alone could be 10 times the size of the entire yellow pages industry, it is clear that online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth marketing. It is more important than ever to have clients spreading good news about you on review sites. If they aren’t, the haters will be.

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