Tag Archives: Twitter

Twitter To Add “Buy Now” Button? How Your Firm Can Profit From Social Media

Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 11.57.53 AMTwitter may well become the Internet’s next online shopping platform.

For the first time, a “Buy now” button appeared on multiple tweets this month, all of which included products that link back to a shopping site called Fancy, reports Mashable.

The button only appears on Twitter’s mobile site, not its web version, and the company itself has yet to comment. But, allowing this sort of third-party link to shopping services isn’t at all that surprising.

“A law firm could develop landing pages for ‘simple legal services’ at flat fees and run ‘Buy Now’ ads on Twitter. The Twitter ad schema would enable ultra focused ads to reach locales and various demographic groups,” writes Kevin O’Keefe on a Real Lawyers Have Blogs post.

Sound farfetched? Not really. It’s already happening.

“I would never have dreamed lawyers would buy pre-written blog posts, sell a half hour of their time for $50 per hour on an a legal matching site, sell services via Groupon, or pay $90 per click through on Google Adwords,” admits O’Keefe.

But law firms do, and have.

Even if Twitter doesn’t rollout this new service, there are plenty of other reasons law firms should use social media.

Law firms, LexisNexis, and client management solution providers are just a few of the many legal services groups taking advantage of Twitter. LexisNexis does a great job at using Twitter to build relationships and enhance their visibility and reputation among customers.

LexisNexis has over 26 thousand followers on Twitter. And there’s no wonder why. Its posts are readable, interesting, and we’re all vying to be their next re-tweet.

Taking notes by hand (w/ pen & paper): A must for lawyers ‪http://bit.ly/1mWSKRY via ‪@lawyerist ‪@samglover

Blogger Kevin O’Keefe talks about the many positive takeaways from being re-tweeted by some of these bigger names in legal services:

  1. “I feel an enhanced relationship with the companies and their executives.
  2. I am more apt to speak positively about the companies and their work—when deserved.
  3. I begin to tweet things they blog or share on Twitter. I am more apt to reach out to the companies on ideas.
  4. I view these companies as more innovative and social. While most of the people in the legal profession, including law firms and companies serving the legal profession are slow to adapt to a real social presence, these companies are proving they understand the future of social.”

The last reason being no small thing.

Read more about how to use Twitter effectively as a law firm or legal services entity on O’Keefe’s Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Twitter is just one social media tool of many. And even if you would never do the same, if you consider it nearly unbelievable, as many as 56 percent of consumers and 72 percent of minorities who searched for an attorney in the past year reported doing so via social media, according to a study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group.

In fact, over one-fifth of survey participants went so far as to consult the social media pages of the specific lawyers or firms that they were considering during this search for legal representation.

So whether or not shoppable tweets are on their way, there’s already more than one reason for law firms to use Twitter.

How can you maximize the potential of social media while ensuring the appropriate use of intellectual property and customer information? What can counsel do to proactively protect brands from infringement by social networking website users?

Listen to C4CM’s audio conference “Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media: Policing and Protecting Against Brand Infringement” and learn about the potential trademark, copyright, and privacy issues presented by the use of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and best practices for the protection of intellectual property and privacy on social media sites, including:

  • Copyright and Trademark Enforcement in Social Media
  • Social Media and Defamation, Patent, Copyright, Trademark and Trade Secret
  • Social Media and IP Policies You Need Today
  • Trademark Infringement Threats on Twitter, Facebook and Other Social Networking Websites
  • New Challenges Posed Both to Brand Owners and Users

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56% Of Consumers Use Social Media To Search For Attorneys

 How Your Firm Can Profit From & Avoid Pitfalls Of Social Media

This Spring, Tumblr hit the 100 Million mark—100 million blogs, that is. If we’re talking about numbers in terms of profit, Tumblr far exceeded mere millions. In May, social blogging platform CEO David Karp sold the company to Yahoo! for a cool $1.1 billion.

Karp, for those who don’t already know, is a 26-year old high school drop out who built Tumblr while still living at his mother’s New York City apartment in 2007, writes Brian Warner for Celebrity Net Worth.

In the same period it can take lawyers to settle a single lawsuit, Karp created and sold a billion-dollar business. If there was ever a time to praise the popularity of social media, Tumblr’s milestone in millions of blogs could certainly serve that purpose.

That’s why it’s not surprising to read in a recent study conducted by The Research Intelligence Group that 56 percent of consumers and 72 percent of minorities who searched for an attorney in the past year reported doing so via social media.

In fact, over one-fifth of survey participants went so far as to consult the social media pages of the specific lawyers or firms that they were considering during this search for legal representation, reports Kevin O’Keefe for Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

Law is a time-honored profession. As such, it maintains certain traditions and history. Ergo, lawyers aren’t often known for being on the cutting edge of technology.

Nevertheless, most law firms today have a website. Keeping that website up-to-date is critical.

Firm websites help you attract more clients, rise in search engine rankings, keep up with technological developments for electronic legal tools, update your firm and practice area information, and increase interaction with the legal community and community of potential clients, in general.

Recently the Virginia Supreme Court in Horace Hunter v. Virginia State Bar ruled on the extent to which law firms can promote their practice and previous legal wins via a blog or website:

“The Virginia majority held that Hunter did not have to seek clients’ permission to discuss past closed cases, even if there was a possibility that the clients would suffer embarrassment or some other harm by the public airing of their affairs. The court also ruled that Hunter’s blogging about past courtroom successes on his firm’s website constituted an advertisement, even though he also included commentary on the criminal justice system. As a result, the majority said he should have included a standard disclaimer cautioning against too much reliance on past results.” (via Above The Law)

Thus, with proper disclaimers, your firm can join the Twittersphere.

In the end, websites, blogs, Twitter, and other social media are not a new development in technology. The Research Intelligence Group’s survey shows that although the number of Internet users declined with age, a surprising 30 percent of survey respondents above the age of 50 were also professed social media users.

And, among survey respondents, nearly one-quarter made a final selection of a lawyer based, in part, on what they gleaned through their social media research, according to Kevin O’Keefe for Real Lawyers Have Blogs.

So, what are a few “must-haves” for attorney websites?

LexisNexis’ own blog suggests:

  • Areas of Law Practiced. Specify your areas of legal expertise and the services that you offer in each of those areas. If visitors can’t find this information quickly, or if it’s unclear, they are likely to leave the site.
  • Experience. Prospective clients want to know how long you have practiced law and whether you have previously handled cases like theirs.
  • Education. Reassure visitors that you have the know-how to resolve their legal issues. Tell them where you went to law school, and when and where you passed the bar exam.
  • Photos. Offer a glimpse of your personality through pictures, but remember to always use professional-looking shots. People who visit your site are searching for an attorney they can trust, not a drinking buddy.
  • Biographical Data. Sharing information about your family and your interests/hobbies conveys personality and helps build connections with potential clients. Just don’t overdo it. (But if your goal is to secure referrals from corporate counsel, our research indicates you should minimize such details.)

However, training your team in technology serves your clients in more ways than one.

In today’s Facebook world, lawyers use social media to attract clients, but they can also have an obligation to perform research on social media sites during investigations, as well.

Social media profiles are a potential treasure trove of information in litigation. But using social networking can ensnare attorneys in ethical traps in two different ways: (1) when accessing information in someone else’s profile, and (2) when an attorney’s own profile information might be used against them.

How can you effectively use social networks to gather information to gain a legal edge while ethically keeping out of trouble?

C4CM’s comprehensive webinar, Using Social Media in Legal Investigations: Traversing the Ethical Minefieldon July 16, 2013, from 2:00 P.M to 3:15 P.M. Eastern time, explores key strategies to improve your legal investigation on social media while keeping yourself safe from legal and ethical pitfalls.

If you’ve found this blog post via social media, you’re off to a great start. Keep up the momentum by exploring other important online tools for law firm managers here.

With so many consumers consulting social media, it’s time for law firm professionals to (*ah hem*) follow suit.


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Six Reasons Why You Should Update Your Website

Almost a month after the iPhone 5 was released, customers remain impressed with the numerous upgrades to the phone’s touch screen, light weight, and high speed.

But, even such a well-received product has its flaws.

For example, critics instantly seized the opportunity to censure Apple’s foray in the navigation app market—iMaps. The search function is too complicated, locations flat-out wrong, and typos abound in place names.

Critics have also complained about wifi issues, excessive scratching on the back of certain models, and confusion over Passbook and other Apple apps.

Nevertheless, Apple iPhone 5 demand remains high ands its reception warm. Both tech analysts and the general public have welcomed this new phone with open arms and willing fingers.

Why? There’s no such thing as the perfect product or service. But, with proper updates and maintenance—like Apple iPhones have shown over time—companies (and law firms) can come close.

With this in mind, law firm managers should seriously consider the following six reasons for why it’s important to update your business website.

1. Attract more clients

If your Fall is feeling blue (not green), a change in your website may be just what you need to add some color to the firm’s billable-hour tree.

These days, legal services are found via the world wide web. Your firm’s website—specifically your home page—is akin to a first meeting with a new client. The first impression your site imparts should embody your work style and attitude.

For former or return clients, a stagnant website sends the message that your firm’s practice might be too. Instead, send the message that your firm is modern, up-to-date, and tech savvy.

Before he closes his browser, a client should feel as satisfied and confident with your legal services simply by perusing your website as if he had just been welcomed through the office door.

2. Rise in search engine index rankings

Another reason to ramp up your website is to rise in search engine index rankings.

Basically, when a person types into Goolge, “Best patent lawyer in San Francisco,” Google searches through a giant index for the most relevant webpages.

If you are a patent attorney in or around San Francisco, you want your website among them.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a way to increase your ranking on this mysterious webpage index and a method for achieving better results. It’s called, Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Your website designer is surely aware of this skill.

And, it’s time to improve your Internet visibility. Update your website to include the keywords, phrases, meta-tags, and HTML necessary to get you noticed.

These search engine indexes are constantly changing and reshuffling their content. So, why aren’t you?

3. Keep up with technology

When a professional service, like the field of law, brags about their ability and knowledge of technology today, the easiest way to verify this claim is by vetting their website.

It’s not just about first impressions. Beautiful, functional, and useful websites are also about credibility. In the 21st century, a firm’s ability to deliver high-quality, high-value services depends on its ability to master and apply new technology.

Consistently updating your website implies to clients that your law firm is constantly ready at the helm.

4. Update your business look

Update your business look with a new look on your website.

Did your law firm add a name partner? Did admin take high-res photos of your associates? Would you love to tout the legal expertise of a new hire?

Whether it’s a new logo or a new lawyer, keep your website as up-to-date as your know-how. Firm managers shouldn’t forget they’re running a legal business in addition to changing legislative bills.

5. Increase interaction

Law is an interactive industry. It requires constant communication. That’s why updating your website to include social media—blog links, Twitter, Google +, Facebook, etc.—will help your attorneys keep in touch with their clients.

It will also help your clients feel in touch with you.

You don’t have to publicize your cell phone number to make a client feel like they know who you are and trust your competency. All it takes is a photo of your warm smile on the online directory or a quick “Message from the partners” bannered on the homepage to improve the working relationship you have with both clients and colleagues.

6. Get feedback

Finally, since communication is a two-way street, add an area for comments and feedback.

Corporate clients are full of untapped resources and industry knowledge. Invite all website visitors to share their stories, opinions, and better-business suggestions with your management team.

After all these changes to your website, you may realize that’s not all your firm needs.


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The Risks of Social Media Use For Lawyers

Although many legal consulting companies advise law firms to make good use of free and accessible social media, such as Twitter, blogging, or social network sites. Some consider the practice to be more of a trap than trail to success.

Thomas J. Watson, senior vice president and director of communications at Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Co., recently wrote an article for the Wisconsin Lawyer titled, “Lawyers and Social Media: What could possibly go wrong?

According to Watson, “Potential hazards include losing control over your message, blurring professional and personal use, expending too much time and money on managing social media use, creating unrealistic client expectations, and making false or misleading communications about a lawyer’s services, not to mention the possibility of violating the rules of professional conduct.”

His article is full of sound professional advice, including, don’t talk about or to clients over social media, beware of the marketing-related Rules of Professional Conduct when writing online, and don’t give legal advice over the Internet.

In some sense, it’s common sense.

Of course, it’s natural to keep aware of conflicts of interest and to not engage in the unauthorized practice of law. Still, something about the anonymity of digital makes people forget about these daily professional conduct rules.

Also, the more software and technology used by your firm, the more necessary tools for confidentiality and protection, like an excellent IT Department, becomes.

Employees at your firm should properly secure its wireless network; update its antivirus software and build a firewall; and remember to remove metadata or password protect-sensitive email attachments.

But, are these risks—inherent in any online activity—so severe that they outweigh the benefits of using social media?

“Is fashion attorney Staci Riordan, perhaps the fastest woman associate to make equity partner at Fox Rothschild, a century old national law firm, advertising with her heavy use of Facebook and Twitter?” questions Kevin O’Keefe in his article “Is all use of social media subject to legal ethics rules?” on his blog.

The question seems rhetorical. And O’Keefe, author of Real Lawyers Have Blogs, believes social media is not about advertising, rather, it’s about building a conversation of trust between lawyers and their clients.

“Riordan, like many shrewd lawyers who truly understand relationships and reputation aren’t built by having separate online identities, uses Twitter and Facebook to network and engage with business leaders, other lawyers, civic leaders, and friends. Riordan knows networking to nurture relationships and establish trust with others so as to build a strong word of mouth reputation is the stuff life is made of for lawyers looking to grow their business and become better lawyers,” he writes.

Ultimately—like any great rivalry—O’Keefe and Watson want the same thing.

Both men want to watch the industry of law regain some of the reputation of honor and integrity it has lost over the years. And, both are eager to influence and advance their struggling profession.

As lawyer jokes become commonplace and the information highway makes pro se (and in-house) representation all that more accessible to Americans, law firms are seeking new outlets and tools for survival.

Using social media to keep up with the times has its risks. But, so does not using it. Embrace innovation.

If your firm still has concerns, consider hiring a consultant to guide you into the 21st century instead of driving you astray.




C4CM offers an audio recording that explains: Social Media at Work: Bulletproof Policies that Minimize Legal and Financial Risks

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O’Keefe Responds To Lexis PR Rep: Why Real Lawyers Have Blogs… And A Social Media Policy

According to a survey of social media in the legal sector by LexisNexis and Vizibility, 81 percent of lawyers claim that they already use social media as marketing tools. Another 10.1 percent saying they plan to deploy social media marketing elements within six months.

Only 12 percent of lawyers do not use a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or other smartphone in their business. For everybody else, there are these top 10 apps for Android phone and iPhone users.

And, as of today, U.K. lawyers can now find LexisNexis apps for their iPhone and iPad.

Nick West, director of Legal Markets for LexisNexis, stated in a press release today:

“The On the Case and Legal Terms apps fuse the accuracy, content and easy-to-use search you would expect from LexisNexis, with access from iPhone and iPad. Legal practice is evolving rapidly, and lawyers are increasingly expected to advise clients whilst on the move. By listening closely to our customers’ needs, we are creating ever-more flexible products–giving our users the ability to access our market-leading information away from their office as easily as they can at their desk.”

Both apps are free to subscribers of Lexis®Library and can be accessed with current customer ID and passwords.

It’s important for law firms to make use of social media in their marketing practice. Blogging is becoming mainstream, just ask Kevin O’Keefe and his aptly named site “Read Lawyers Have Blogs.”

Kevin O’Keefe wrote an article about Lexis’ announcement, and also attached a PowerPoint from Dr. Corrine Weisberger of St. Edward’s University to his article, which discusses using Twitter as a public relations’ tool. You can find the PPT here.

Although law firms and legal services professionals are finally employing social media and blogging to advance their businesses, these firms are still lacking in a consistent social media policy.

Take, for example, Kevin O’Keefe’s complaint about the Lexis press release today. In an attempt to “spread the word” about Lexis’ apps, Kevin O’Keefe attempted to locate the Twitter handle of the press release’s author, Melissa Higgs.

“I couldn’t find Higgs Twitter handle. Nothing on a general Google search except for a Melissa Higgs, also in the UK, who says her tweets are personal. No one by the name of Melissa Higgs on Twitter who says they are working for LexisNexis. Not seeing any tweets referencing LexisNexis from folks by the name of ‘Melissa Higgs’ on Twitter, I didn’t want to give an incorrect attribution by guessing. I went to Higgs LinkedIn profile, where most folks include their Twitter handles. Nothing,” writes O’Keefe.

“Time to get with it folks. Time to make it easier on people like me who are trying to help you do your job.”

 O’Keefe is not wrong.

Unsurprisingly, in the same survey of social media in the legal sector by LexisNexis and Vizibility, when asked, “Does your firm have a social media policy or guidelines for social media,” only 61.2 percent of legal professionals responded yes.

LexisNexis will surely benefit from its iPhone and iPad apps, but it’s currently losing out from not advertising these apps via Twitter, among other Internet conduits. LexisNexis needs a policy that streamlines the company’s use of social media for marketing.

So where should they start?

Perhaps these three, simple steps:

1. Formulate a strategy. Many firms are stymied when it comes to creating a social media strategy. These days, companies (like this one) are available to walk you through the process. For “do it yourself” firms, come up with a game plan and series of goals for your social media use—is it for client education, employee recruitment, or PR? Then, circulate this strategy to your firm’s appropriate department.

2. Implement guidelines. Social media policies should explain to associates expectations for their participation on sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. It should also create guidelines for the firm’s social media use: How often will the firm post, who is responsible for posting, and how will all your social media systems correspond with one another (see O’Keefe’s point about trying to locate a Twitter handle via LinkedIn).

3. Encourage associates to use social media. As the aforementioned survey details, social media has infiltrated the legal profession. Used as a marketing strategy, firms benefit from having their name saturating the digital world. Encourage your associates to belong to these networking sites. Or, to blog about their experience with the firm. Had Lexis done encouraged social media use among its employees, Melissa Higgs would likely be on Twitter. The Internet is undoubtedly the first place that prospective clients and new employees will look to be introduced to your firm.

To conclude, ensure the name of your firm—and its services—is always linked with descriptions like “innovative” and “cutting-edge” by making better use of technology and social media, and implementing a policy to protect your corresponding online reputation.

For more information about formulating a social media policy, attend one of the Center For Competitive Management’s courses on social media, including “Developing a Social Media Policy: Clear Guidelines to Prevent or Reduce Employment-Related Problems.”



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More Lawyers Blogging As Social Media Gains Ground Within Law Sector, Survey Says

If you’re reading this blog, you’re not alone.

The legal profession, it turns out, is becoming inundated with law blogs. It only takes a quick Google search to realize all your major competitors have a blog for their firm.

According to a recently-released survey of social media in the legal sector by LexisNexis and Vizibility, 81 percent of survey participants reporting they already use social media marketing tools and another 10.1 percent saying they plan to deploy social media marketing elements within six months.

With so much interest and activity flurries within the legal blogging world, you may be surprised to find that this new industry is still fairly unstructured.

When asked, “Does your firm have a social media policy or guidelines for social media,” however, only 61.2 percent of legal professionals responded yes.

And, a small niche of lawyers continues to rebuff smartphones in 2011. At least 12 percent do not use a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or other smartphone in their business, including scanning QR codes.

So, to those 30.8 percent of legal professionals who find social media to be extremely important to their firm’s overall marketing strategy (and the 48.8 percent who admit it’s somewhat important), here are three ways to propel your firm forward into the world wide web of successful social media users and profiteers.

1. Formulate a strategy

It’s a legitimate and smart step toward success to start a blog for your law firm. However, what next?

Many firms are stymied when it comes to creating a social media strategy. These days, companies (like this one) are available to walk you through the process.

Or, for “do it yourself” firms, come up with a game plan and series of goals for your social media use. Is the primary purpose recruitment? If so, gear your law firm articles toward law school students. Have your first-year associates control the content to keep it pertinent to the generation.

Is the main goal of your blog to attract new clients? If so, perhaps a managing partner or firm administrator should be the major contributor. Write about key case wins and other newsworthy successes. Add interesting profiles and photos of your most promising attorneys to garner attention from the outside world seeking counsel.

Allow third-parties to subscribe to your blog or newsletter, and aim its content toward business ideas or legal developments that would be of interest to your prospective clients and also ones that will show off your firm’s expertise.

2. Implement guidelines

Not only should your firm create a social media strategy, but it should also write a social media policy.

Social media policies should explain to associates expectations for their participation on sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

What is your stance on associates having personal blogs? There’s nothing to stop free speech in this country, but you can certainly address for associates how your firm would like its image to be portrayed on the Internet.

3. Encourage associates to use social media

As the aforementioned survey details, social media has infiltrated the legal profession. Used as a marketing strategy, firms benefit from having their name saturating the digital world.

Encourage your associates to belong to these networking sites. Or, to blog about their experience with the firm. The Internet is undoubtedly the first place that prospective clients and new employees will look to be introduced to your firm.

Robert Ambrogi, legal blogger, writes about the trend on LawSites, “For readers of blogs, there is a coming feast of abundance. For writers of blogs, the game is on to produce quality, thoughtful posts that will keep your blog from drowning.”

Don’t keep your acclaim or successes a secret. If your firm is part of the 19 percent who have yet to use social media as a marketing tool, it’s not too late to start today.


Attend one of the Center For Competitive Management’s courses on social media, including “Developing a Social Media Policy: Clear Guidelines to Prevent or Reduce Employment-Related Problems.”

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Why Your Twitter Login And Password Should Not Also Unlock Your Firm’s Proprietary Information

Last month, Sweden experienced the worst data leak in the country’s history when a hacker released details of more than 90,000 private e-mail accounts, including many prominent members of government.

First victims were political journalists. Their e-mails and information were tweeted from the Twitter account of William Petzall, who was, at the time, a far-right wing party MP. Those were not the sole targets, however, and shortly after the hacker broke into popular Swedish website, Bloggtoppen.se, reports The Guardian.

Unfortunately, the hacker has neither been identified, nor been stopped from reeking digital havoc on 57 other websites, compromising an estimated 200,000 people’s privately stored information, continues The Guardian.

The hacker’s goal? “I dumped this information to let people know that they handle their information wrongly,” he said in an interview with Expressen newspaper, writes The Guardian.

“It’s a story about the possible naivety of Swedish internet users who log into their bank account and the New York Times web pages using the same password,” Expressen journalist Micke Olander said about the hack job, according to The Guardian.

This type of naivety should not be new to Sweden. And, it should not be a pervasive ignorance here in the U.S. either.

In 2010, roughly 8.1 million people, or 3.5 percent of the U.S. population, were victims to identify theft, according to data compiled by Javelin Strategy & Research. Luckily, that number was down 28 percent from the previous year, and the lowest since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007, reports Reuters.

One reason for the dramatic decrease in identity theft could be the counter cyberwar waged by consumers. SplashData via Mashable, for example, published a list of the top stolen passwords as posted by online hackers, as a reminder to keep alert and avoid:

  1. password
  2. 123456
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. monkey
  7. 1234567
  8. letmein
  9. trustno1
  10. dragon
  11. baseball
  12. 111111
  13. iloveyou
  14. master
  15. sunshine
  16. ashley
  17. bailey
  18. passw0rd
  19. shadow
  20. 123123
  21. 654321
  22. superman
  23. qazwsx
  24. michael
  25. football

As the two biggest holiday shopping weekends approach (Black Friday and Christmas Eve weekend), online shoppers are more aware of how to create retailing passwords that will ensure the safety and timeliness of their gift packages.

Within law firms, the stress of the New Year and bringing in new clients can be lessened by the confidence that proprietary information is secure. And, at your desk, ensure that confidential documents and logins remain that way with a unique 8-character password with numbers, letters, and special symbols.

Unfortunately, despite all these precautions, “friendly fraud”—when the victim is known to the criminal—increased by 7 percent in 2010, with those aged 25 to 34 most likely to be victims, reports Reuters.

So, even though it may be convenient to give your legal assistant, friend, or neighbor the codes to your computer, not all fraud comes from an individual with an unidentifiable screen name and mission-impossible-like skills.

As such, be cybersmart on all levels. Your login and password for Amazon.com’s holiday shopping should not also unlock the firm’s confidential client information or your personal bank account.

Consider yourself warned.


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Beware Of Blogging: Virginia State Bar’s Message To Attorneys Via Surprising Misconduct Charge

Considering a blog site for your law firm? Perhaps you should check with your State Bar first.

In one of the first cases of its kind, the Virginia State Bar has brought a misconduct charge against a criminal defense attorney in the state for blogging about cases on which he has worked.

The State Bar alleges that Richmond criminal defense attorney Horace Hunter is using his firm’s blog site for advertising, read the full charge here. Hunter counter-argues that his articles consist of news and commentary, read his blog here.

Does Virginia’s charge violate Hunter’s rights to free speech? Or, are lawyers using firm blogs to get around the ethical and legal requirements of advertising?

In light of the economic recession, lawyers are looking to improve their practice and attract new clients through a variety of social media. Articles advising firms to open Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and blog sites are abound.

And, for good reason.

In 2011, four out of five American businesses with 100 or more employees use social media marketing, according to research conducted by eMarketer. That’s a significant increase from 2008 when a mere 42 percent of companies marketed via social media, reports the same source.

So, businesses are using social media, like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Blogger, both to seek customers and to also find appropriate legal representation. Law firms, for their turn, are competing with one another to sign as many corporate clients as possible.  

Standing out in a technology-driven crowd can be difficult for law firms. Impossible for those behind the digital times.

But, at least one State Bar is sending a message to its attorneys that ethical and legal rules about advertising your firm still apply in the blogosphere, reports The Washington Post.

Except discussing cases—even your own—has been a longstanding tradition for lawyers nationwide. Usually it’s done in speeches, post-courtroom press talks, or newspaper interviews.

Are blog posts any different?

“If the Virginia Bar believes that blogs that discuss news and commentary should have stringent disclaimers that precede the content because they are deemed to be advertisements, then the Virginia Bar may have to require that every blog post, blog comments on other blogs and other user-generated content by an attorney to contain a strict disclaimer,” Brad Shear, a Bethesda attorney specializing in social media law, said to The Washington Post.

“It becomes a slippery slope.”


Whatever your opinion on this matter, it’s important to understand the risks of creating a blog for your firm.

If you decided to do so, protect your firm via the following four steps:

  1. Create a disclaimer on the “About” page or at the end of each post; 
  2. Get written consent from your clients to discuss their cases on the blog;
  3. Implement an internal Social Media Policy for your firm; and 
  4. Remember Nicole Black, attorney and author of Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, a good rule of thumb is “if you can’t do it off-line, you can’t do it online.”



For more information, attend C4CM’s course, “Social Media Policy Dos and Don’ts: Employees, Networking Sites and the Law.”

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To Increase Your Business With Gen Yers…Be Cool!

Gen Y-ers are everywhere. These not-quite-yet-30-year-old children of Baby Boomers (or, depending on how narrowly you define the segment, of Generation Xers), are recognized as having a “speak your mind” philosophy.  And one of the things they are making no bones about expressing is that they want to do business with entities that are cool.
And that, my dear barristers, includes law firms.

Notes Erin Blaskie on today’s Lawyerist blog,   “In today’s society, there is a growing trend among Gen Yers, and it is affecting major buying decisions everywhere. It essentially boils down to this: you have to be cool in order for me to spend my money with you.”

But just how cool do you have to be?  And isn’t being cool a tad too unprofessional for pragmatic lawyers?

Not necessarily.  Let’s analyze the definition of cool, as seen by this financially savvy group of consumers.

According to Blaskie, an entrepreneur tuned into the phenomenon of media:

 “Being cool means providing your clients and potential clients more reasons to want to do business with you, aside from the obvious ones. What do you do in your law practice that people will talk about? How are you making a difference in the community you live in? How can people connect with you in the places that they are presently hanging out?”

So it means being bigger than yourself.  Hanging out a shingle that announces to the world that you care, and that you put your money where your mouth is…that your actions show that you  are socially conscious and that you do something about it.

Here are three of Blaskie’s recommendations for positioning your firm in a position that’s head and shoulders above the rest in the cool factor.

1.  You’ve got to give back. You need to get involved in good causes.  With all the thousands of non-profits that are out there, you won’t have any trouble picking one that you can donate your time and money to.

Make their cause your cause.  Caution: make it a genuine passion.  Gen Y-ers have a “realization that life is short,” notes a USA today piece on Money and Generation Yers.  Thus, they value it more…and expect their business associates to do so, as well.

2. Definitely go social.  You must, must, must be “LinkedIn”.  Getting your firm to develop an online presence that’s engaging and active will do wonders for your cool.  Not only is it where a huge customer base exists—including Gen Y-ers—but you will be going where this particular demographic hangs out.

Blaskie met her lawyer on Twitter, she tells us.   She asked her followers for a referral.  Interestingly, the author relies on social media for 100% of her business referrals.

Do you think you don’t need to be a part of the conversation to pick up that kind of business?  Think again.  Here’s Blaskie on that topic:

“I may not want to pop out of Twitter to send an e-mail or pick up the phone and call you. I want to get answers quickly and I want to find out if you can help me now. Gen Yers are antsy folk.”

And, finally:

3.  Strive to be a horse of a different color. Do something your target audience will remember.  One of the suggestions Blaskie makes is to set up an Open House at your firm, where you can invite potential clients and answer any and all questions to win over a new clientele. “Think of how you will be changing your potential client’s experience,” she notes.

Are you ready to connect with those discerning Gen Yers? If so, you just might end up with their dollars and, more important, with their vote for coolest firm.

Graphics courtesy of the Lawyerist.com.


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Internet Censorship Sends Wrong Signal To Associates—Checking Social Media At Work

Is Facebook an open window on your computer screen while you’re reading this blog post?

If so, you’re not alone.

Studies show that among business professionals, 58.5 percent check Facebook regularly, nearly 50 percent check LinkedIn regularly, 23 percent check Twitter, and 22 percent consult blogs (hint: that’s you) while at work.

Although younger generations spend almost double the number of hours on social media sites per day than older generations (1.8 hours for Generation Y versus 1 hour for Baby Boomers), social media use among all professionals in general is on the rise.

Administrators seem to think this is point of concern. About 54 percent of companies have blocked social networking websites at the office, reports digital consultant Arik Hanson. And, according to a study by Steve Matthews and Doug Cornelius, 45 percent of law firms have done the same.

However, before you make an appointment with your IT Department to follow suit, consider Kevin O’Keefe’s points for “Why law firms need to stop blocking the use of social media,” on his site Real Lawyers Have Blogs:

  • Nearly all companies (94% per Digital Media Wire) are investing in social media as a marketing/communications tool. Assuming your law firm is investing in social media, but you limit social media’s use by your employees, you are saying, per Hanson, “We believe in the power of social media to help us market our products and services, we just don’t trust our employees because we think they’ll waste an inordinate amount of time on Facebook.”
  • More of your lawyers are relying on social networks to do their jobs. How often do you turn to friends and colleagues online for advice? How often do you read blogs to keep up with industry trends? Data suggests 25 percent of employees rely heavily on social networks in the workplace. It’s probably higher for your star lawyers and other professionals.
  • You’re going to lose lawyers and other professionals to competitors. Per a study by American Express, 39 percent of younger workers won’t even consider working for a company that blocks Facebook. Facebook has become the communication tool of choice for many young professionals. Why would they work for a law that’s going to block its use?
  • Smartphones and tablets. By the end of this year 50 percent of all Americans will own a smartphone. The fastest growing use of mobile? Social networking. Everywhere I travel I see lawyers with two mobile phones, a blackberry and an iPhone or Android. Your lawyers and other professionals are already using social media.
  • Breaks equal more-productive employees. Recent research suggests employees who are given short breaks to surf the Web or connect with friends on Facebook are more productive than those who don’t. No one stopped lawyers from stopping to have a cup of coffee with others, why block social media?
  • Lawyers receive work because of their relationships and word of mouth reputation. Social media and the Internet doesn’t change that. Social media is just an accelerator of relationships and the spread of your word of mouth reputation.

Consensus among the blogosphere is that blocking associates’ access to social media sites sends the signal that administrators and firm partners don’t trust associates to manage their own workload.

More importantly, managing partners should pay attention to the performance of their attorneys in the form of personal interaction instead of relying on spyware or internet censorship software.

One-on-one training and mentorship is more important a concern than worrying about your associates’ facebook friendships. So stop blocking social media websites, and start focusing on the delivery of high-quality products to your client—even if the multitasking methods your young associates use are less than traditional.


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