One Oklahoma lawyer has declined to participate in Facebook, in part because of the horror stories about privacy breaches. You would think that would make her safe from inadvertent disclosures of information via Facebook. But think again.
This lawyer loves phtography and she had shared photos she made with her friend via text message and email. Due to an automatic update of Facebook in December, every one of the pictures her friend had on her phone were posted to Facebook--automatically. Of course that were no inappropriate pictures, but still this lawyer who had intentionally avoided Facebook found it troubling that numerous pictures of her had been posted there.
I found this a bit hard to believe. But a little research found an article on C|NET Prevent Facebook from automatically importing photos. Sure enough a December update to Facebook provided for automatic synchronization will all photos on your smart phone or iPad with Facebook. And as with all things Facebook, a click in the wrong place can opt you in to the service. You can read the article to learn how to opt out. Supposedly the pictures would be private and not posted to a user's Timeline until it was done manually. I'm not sure that is how it worked in this case.
But the idea of all photos on your phone being automatically posted to Facebook is pretty scary. I imagine somewhere there was someone who was shocked when they logged into Facebook and found their very private pictures had been posted there. And if they all were posted to the Facebook Timeline in December for all to see, in some cases that might have made for some very interesting discussions at Christmas family gatherings.
Social media is obviously huge and significant. Certainly a lot of people use social media very successfully for marketing. Using social media can be fun, which means it holds the potential to be a huge time sink. By now most family law practitioners have had a case involving damaging statements or inappropriate photos posted to Facebook. But many lawyers feel they are too busy to use social media for marketing and some feel that it is a bit unseemly for a legal professional.
Let me be clear that I am now reviewing a book that I have not read. But I know the subject matter and I know the author. I have long believed that Twitter is very important for lawyers, particularly solos and smaller firms. So I would encourage all of you to preorder Twitter in One Hour for Lawyers by Jared Correia. Jared is a very entertaining and knowledgeable writer.
The nice thing about Twitter is that if you skip a week (or two) posting tweets, it is not as obvious as when you do not post to your blog for a month and every visitor can scroll down and see that. For solos and small firms, Twitter is like a free public relations agency. You set up an account for your law firm. Solo lawyers will want to use their real name, if available. If it is not, maybe you can add Esq or Atty to your name. You then put your Twitter name with a hyperlink in your email signature block. Do a few inital tweets about your law practice or the subject areas of law that you primarly handle. Then e-mail all of your buddies telling them you are on Twitter with a link to your Twitter account. That's less than an hour of work. You may be surprised that people quickly start following you.
The next time you have an hour or so to invest, do a few searches for lawyers in your area and follow them on Twitter. Then do another tweet or two, pehaps linking to a really interesting online article or two about law. Follow lawyers in other states who tweet about your practice area and retweet (RT) them occasionally. Then (and this is the really important step) follow all of the media outlets in your area, along with their writers and broadcasters who have Twitter accounts. And you may be surprised that several follow you back. Today's journalists get many story ideas from Twitter.
Try to tweet every week. But don't worry about doing many tweets each week unless you come up with really good material. At least twice a month check the Direct messages and Connect areas to see if anyone you do not follow sent you a message. If someone posts about you, using your Twitter name, you should get an email notification.
You may get a call from a reporter sometime as a result of this, but the real payoff is when you publish a story in a publication for lawyers and can tweet out the link to the article in seconds. You should send out tweets when you teach CLE programs, when you are mentioned in the media in any way or when you publish an update to your law firm web page. My view is that you will probably want to keep your tweets mainly about you or the law, but others disagree. There are tools to help you manage and automate this. I'm sure Jared will inform you all about those in the book. When you have big news to share, do not worry that you only have 200 (or 50) followers. Many of them will RT interesting items.
OK, it won't be just an hour. It will be more like 3 or 4 hours to get started and an hour or half hour per month. But Twitter is free and having your own press release distribution service can be pretty amazing. Many tweet from their smart phones using the Twitter app. Do not "hard sell" your legal services. Twitter users really do not like that and may unfollow you or block you. But unlike many other ways of increasing your visibility online, this is something that a lawyer who is inexperienced in marketing can do effectively in a small amount of time each month.
The final point is do no harm. Do not post tweets when you are angry at someone and want to tweet back at them. Do not drink and tweet. :-) Watch your language. I recently heard from someone who followed a lawyer on Twitter and the first several tweets from the lawyer all contained obscenities. She unfollowed him immediately. Have fun. Be light hearted--at least part of the time. Don't expect huge results, but pay attention when you get them.
So preorder this book right now. Don't wait for any "real" reviews. The book is inexpensive at $39.95 and you can get a 15% discount for preordering. (In addition, some state bar memberships provide an additional discount. The discount code for Oklahoma Bar members discount code is PAB9EOKB.)
Email Issues For Lawyers Today is my column in this month's Oklahoma Bar Journal.
Dealing with email is a challenge for many business professionals. I actually intended to write this piece about something that was related, but I was inspired by a blog post by Erik Mazzone, Should Lawyers Use Encrypted Email? and something very interesting that one of our Oklahoma family lawyer practitioners said in a presentation at our OBA Solo and Small Firm Conference. You hear talk at technology conferences criticizing lawyers for using web-based email. But it is still widely used, at least by solo lawyers. I came up with four questions and some discussion about each, even if there are not clear cut answers sometimes. Many times a lawyer simply has to decide for himself or herself--at least until there is a consensus or some clear guidance from your jurisdiction. But there are some clear situations where the email that a client uses can be very problematic.
If anyone strongly disagrees with something in the column and sends me a link to an article, I might do a follow up with some links. I don't host comments on my blog. So to so that you will have to use ---- EMAIL!
That headline must strike fear in the hearts of some lawyers, who already feel that they have to follow too many recent developments in the law. But this week the American Bar Association House of Delegates passed several Amendments to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct relating to lawyer's knowledge about technology. Yes, I remember when I was one of a small group of "teckies" scaring lawyers about the impact of metadata. Now the Model Rules have been amended to include references to metadata. A comment to Rule 1.1 regarding Competence added "including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology" to the requirements of basic lawyer competency. Here's a nice story from Sean Doherty of Law Technology News outlining the changes related to technology. The Model Rule proposed changes now go to the states to see if they will be adopted in the various jurisdictions.
Podcasts are a great way to learn while you are doing something else, like commuting or just relaxing. The complete archives of the Digital Edge: Lawyers and Technology podcast are now available online at the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section website. We just posted the 57th Edition where Sharon Nelson and I talk to Dan Pinnington, Vice President of Claims Prevention and Stakeholder Relations for the Lawyers Professional Indemnity Company in Ontario, about how lawyers can avoid bad check frauds. Dan has allowed us to post lots of examples of fraudulent documents on the page for that podcast.
But Sharon and I have had a lot of fun podcasts over the years, (for us at least) like our recent one on the future of law practice. Check out the Digital Edge podcast archive page. You may find some useful information you missed when they were first posted. Sharon and I invite you to join us.
Since I already made one blog post on the future of law practice this week, I decided I should mention that our most recent Digital Edge podcast is our 56th Edition, which was also about The Future of Law Practice. My podcast teammate, Sharon Nelson, interviewed me for a change of pace and added some of her comments on this important topic. Give the podcast a listen if you have time.
We have done a previous Digital Edge podcast about the future of law practice- our 41st Edition posted in March, 2011. Neither Sharon or I reviewed the earlier podcast before recording this one. So if you want to listen to both and see how our thinking had changed in 14 months, feel free to do so. And before some of you even start on that e-mail, the answer is "no," we don't plan to make that topic an annual event. But smart lawyers pay attention to trends--and of course, they also always listen to the Digital Edge podcast!
Today's post from those helpful folks at Attorney at Work begins as follows:
"This summer, the hottest ticket at state bar association annual meetings seems to be sessions focused on the future of the business of practicing law. And with just cause. There’s a lot going on out there to make us nervous."
I've certainly been a part of that trend. As readers of this blog know, I did a plenary session on the Future of Law Practice for ABA TECHSHOW in March and gave much the same talk to attendees at the OBA Solo & Small Firm Conference in June. I've also been invited to give the same address at several other state bars. At about the same time of our Solo & Small Firm Conference, Attorney at Work’s Merrilyn Astin Tarlton was giving a keynote address on the topic for the State Bar of Texas. In advance of that, she asked several "top practice management experts" for advice on what actions lawyers should be taking now to prepare for the future. (I put that phrase in quotes since she included me in the group.)
She has now shared those responses with all of us in today's post The Future is Hazy - Now What? This is a quite excellent collection of ideas, comments and observations. Some of these ideas might even be slightly contradictory. (And there's one that I would think was stolen from my TECHSHOW speech, except I think Matt left Chicago before my talk.) As that great philosopher Yogi Berra said: “It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
But when you think about it, is there really anything more important for you to do sometime this week than spend a few moments reading and thinking about your future?
There are many changes ahead for us in the future. But one set of changes that that I see impacting lawyers and law firms in the near future involves how we produce documents and bill for documents. There are some great tools that relatively few law firms are using now that I think will become common very soon. I direct you to my column in Lawyers USA on "Efficient legal document production for lawyers." Feel free to share the link with other lawyers you know. It will take some time to learn the tools and modify some parts of your business model. But with these tools we have the potential for less drudgery for lawyers, more efficiency and a better work product to deliver to our clients. It is hard to argue with that.
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