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The hidden value of social media: a case study for lawyers

By August 19, 2010Uncategorized

Screen shot 2010-08-19 at 8.44.54 AM  In our buzzword-driven world the phrase “social media” ranks high, at least these days. Veteran attorneys want to know why the hell they should care about social media. Younger attorneys understand Facebook and Twitter, but they don't really see how social media can help them learn to practice law.

Here's how:

New lawyers need mentoring. Experienced lawyers can provide that mentoring, and social media is a good way to do it. I shall now give an example of this in action.

A young lawyer in a particular 'social media place' asked this question:

  • “How do I perform a title search? It's in xxxxxx Parish. I have a vague idea from first year property in law school that I'd go on down to the registry office and demand they pull all the info on the tract for me, but I suspect that, as with most things learned in law school, the procedural aspects will turn out to be far more complex.”

Experienced lawyers then quickly responded with the following:

  • “Do yourself ( and  your client , and your Malpractice Insurer) a favor and
    hire a competent  abstractor……just my two cents.”

  • “Do what [guy above] suggests. A lesson learned the hard way many years ago.”

  • “I agree with [guy above too].  It takes a long time and you don't want the
    responsibility.”

  • “Having been an oil and gas abstracter since the late 1970s, ….my advice is you never “demand” a clerk do anything other than his or her job. Researching a title is not the clerk's job….Hire an abstracter who knows the courthouse in your area. The title search may take an hour, it may take 4 months (as some oil and gas titles took). Either way, the abstracter knows what to do and will get your information for you with less cost than you doing it yourself and charging your client for your time.”

Thus, in a very short time, this newly minted attorney got four experienced lawyers to share their sage advice. And, since they all agreed on exactly how to solve the problem, it's the new attorney now has no doubt about what to do.

By the way, where do you think this 'social media exchange' happened? It wasn't on Facebook, or Twitter, or LinkedIn or even a weblog. Although it could have been any of those places.

No, my friends, this exchange took place on what one would call an 'email list-serve,' something that has been around since long before weblogs, Facebook, Twitter or any of those things that we think of as 'social media.' 

The fact is 'social media' is just a way to connect people who use computers and the Internet. 

Is it dangerous to use social media? Yes, if you're cavalier about what you say in public, and if you say something stupid. Is social medial valuable: yes, if you use it to gain insight from a large group of people who have more experience than you do.

Social media is just a tool, but it can be a powerful one if used in the right way. Mentoring young lawyers seems to be a great use for it. God knows, there isn't enough mentoring happening in so-called 'traditional ways.'


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to check this out.

One Comment

  • Very well said, Ernie, both on the value and need of mentoring and sharing, and the fact that “social media is just a tool”, albeit an efficient and scalable one.

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