Category Archives: Blogs for Lawyers

“Unreliable” Social Media Not So Unreliable?

Kevin O’Keefe makes a great point about the powerful self-corrective nature of social media:

Traditional legal publishers are quick to question the reliability of information from blogs and Twitter.

How do you know if the blog post is correct? Is the blogger authoritative? Anyone can jump on Twitter and start to Tweet. Look at all the false information that’s tweeted during breaking news.

There’s almost a smugness I get when I discuss the value of social media with traditional publishers. They’re just blogs. It’s just Twitter. It can be be just a lot of noise coming at you.

As Bailey points out, many overlook the fact that the aggregate data can often give the most accurate lens by which information can be confirmed.

What’s more reliable? One legal reporter calling a source or two and getting out a story the next day or five or ten lawyers blogging on the legal development that day with comments and Tweets commenting on the blog posts.

via Legal social media trumps traditional reporting and peer review.

Beverly Michaelis On Coping with Gmail Outages

Oregon Law Practice Management notes:

According to Business Insider, Google’s own redundant backups ensure that you will eventually reclaim all your data.  You can rely on this or implement your own recovery plan. [Hint: implement your own plan].

Pretty good hint! Beverly Michaelis goes on to explain exactly what to do and how to do it.

Lots of things to like about the Oregon Law Practice Management blog, including the elegant and effective “About” page, which has given me some ideas for upgrading mine. My favorite part is the use of Flickr photos showing the natural beauty of that wonderful state. 

 

When Cutting Edge Ideas Go Mainstream, Part I

When I published Blogs as a Disruptive Technology in Law Practice magazine a decade ago, my thesis that many law firms would be better off building their websites with blog software than with conventional website design technology was considered by many to be sort of nutty.

I’m pleased to see that an article in Law Practice Today (the online version of Law Practice) shows that the idea has now become conventional wisdom:

Quickly Making a Professional-Looking Website

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.

Social Media vs. Client Confidentiality

Michael Downey’s article in the most recent issue of the ABA Law Practice Management’s Law Practice magazine raises an issue concerning the effects of social media on client confidentiality:

[T]he constant push for lawyers to post Internet content—blogging, tweeting and the like—substantially increases the risks to client information.

A great illustration of a lawyer generating Internet content to attract clients is Hunter v. Virginia State Bar, No. 121472 (Va. Feb. 28, 2013). In Hunter, a lawyer blogged about criminal cases he handled for clients without the clients’ permission.

A hearing panel found this unethical, but the Virginia Supreme Court reversed, concluding that a lawyer could report on publicly disclosed information at a client’s criminal proceeding without client consent. “To the extent [this] information is aired in a public forum,” the Hunter court explained, “privacy considerations must yield to First Amendment protections.”

Sign of the future? Hunter’s holding may be rejected as unpersuasive by other courts. Yet Hunter serves as a powerful reminder that lawyers and law firms may be inclined to promote their firms by revealing client confidences.

No doubt, social media create new ways in which lawyers can commit ethics violations, and new opportunities for them to do so. However, these pressures are not qualitatively different from those of years past. Unethical lawyers could always breach client confidences in articles, speeches, or even informal marketing pitches. Ethical lawyers didn’t then and won’t now.

Awareness of any intensified risks is great, and I commend Mr. Downey, but let’s be careful to avoid letting welcome conscience-raising descend into what Kevin O’Keefe has correctly described as “lawyers scaring lawyers from using social media.”

Lawyers and “Ghost Blogging”

Jim Calloway, Kevin O’Keefe and Sharon Nelson share opinions on the ethics of lawyer blogs using material not written by the lawyer, also known as “ghost blogging” a Digital Edge Podcast entitled Lawyers Swarm to Ghost Blogging, But is it Ethical? Digital Edge Podcast.

I don’t have a giant problem with law firms using marketing materials written by others. Vendors have been providing such materials for decades. To the degree a lawyer is presenting the blog as representing his unique insights, ghost blogging might be problematic in some situations.

WordPress Not Just For Blogging

Better late than never, right? Way back in 2004 I wrote an article called, “Blogs as a Disruptive Technology” for the ABA’s Law Practice magazine. A key thesis was:

What makes this even more interesting is that sophisticated blog software such as Movable Type [since supplanted as market leader WordPress] is flexible enough to be used to achieve any desired design effect. The site can look like a blog, or it can look like a conventional Web site–a very high-quality one.

A recent Kevin O’Keefe post gives me the impression that the educational community is belatedly coming to realize the truth of my assessment:

Rather than look at WordPress as solely a blog platform, Burt says educators ought to leverage WordPress to meet all sorts of web and technology needs.

Burt demonstrates the the range of WordPress with 29 current university and higher education sites, including the below.

    • University website
    • Marketing site
    • Professor blogs
    • Research findings
    • Online courses
    • Alumni magazines
    • Library blogs
    • Admissions sites
    • Student portfolios
    • Faculty bios
    • Course blogs
    • Summer program
    • Student organizations

WordPress is perfect for law schools. Law schools have limited technology budgets and technology personnel. Law schools are also lagging in there use of innovative publishing and social media solutions.