In the latest edition of “are we still really talking about this?” Jaimie Field brings you a recommendation on why, as lawyers, you should be paying attention to and using social media. I will add this caveat – social media, like any marketing tool, needs to be used when and if it aligns with your marketing goals. But at the very minimum, you should understand what the tools are and how they work, because they may benefit you from a research perspective, because your clients use them and you may need to advise them, or because they fit into your own strategy for business development, relationship engagement, reputation enhancement, etc.

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It’s 2017.  More and more lawyers are using Social Media and the numbers keep growing.  A recent post by Nicole Black writing for MyCase provides some of the latest statistics about  how lawyers are using social media and blogging for marketing and business development purposes. 

Additionally, in their annual survey, Findlaw has determined that consumers use the internet as the most popular way to research an attorney.  Even when provided a strong referral to you, the first place a prospective client will go is to the internet to see if you are the right attorney for them.You need to have an online presence, over and above your website bio.

From a business development and brand building standpoint, social media allows you to become known as an authority in your practice area if done correctly.  It can also destroy your brand and reputation in one post, one tweet, or one blog if done incorrectly.

While you don’t have to participate in social media, or any other on-line activities, ethically speaking, you must become technologically savvy and this includes the use of social media.

No longer is being a Luddite an excuse.

Rule 1.1 of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct has long stated that:

A lawyer should provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation.”

In 2012, the ABA added a comment to the rule which has been adopted in a majority of states.  Comment #8 says:

To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject (bold added).”

And while this comment refers to the use of technology in terms of discovery, and protecting the confidentiality and security of client’s information, the rule can also logically be applied to the use of the internet, blogging, and social media for marketing and business development purposes.

There are many benefits to using social media for attorney business development, and there are subsequent risks.

However, the biggest risk to your career is not learning how to use social media (or technology in general); and from my standpoint, as a Rainmaking Coach and Trainer, the biggest mistake is not understanding the benefits of using the internet as one of your tools for growing your book of business.