Here at Lawyerist, we are very big on business cards for lawyers. Business cards can not only provide valuable contact information to both clients and colleagues, but they can also serve to reflect a lawyer’s personality. In fact, tech-savvy lawyers can even include a QR code on their business cards for ease of electronic access.

However, when even law firms have gone digital, one begins to wonder whether business cards are becoming relics of the past. In this Internet age, are business cards on their way to extinction? Perhaps, but some say that business cards have already died.

Has Social Media Killed the Business Card?

In his Above the Law column entitled Small Firms, Big Lawyers, Jay Shepherd noted that while at the 2011 ABA TechShow, lawyers exchanged Twitter handles as opposed to business cards. The business card, as he observed, had essentially died. But was the business card’s demise due simply to the fact that Jay was among some of the most tech-savvy lawyers within the the ABA’s ranks? He agreed, stating:

I think you’re right that the Twitter-over-business-card phenomenon was more pronounced because it took place at TechShow, instead of at an ordinary legal conference. But I’m sure the same thing happened at TechShow in the nineties with email addresses and websites. The people who go to TechShow happen to be the innovators and early adopters. It will take longer to happen in the general lawyer population, but it will happen nonetheless.

Further still, Jay mentioned in his Above the Law column that while Twitter is about sharing, be it interests, skills, or personality traits, it is not about sales or advertisement of services. With that in mind, I wondered whether Jay believed that the business card had died only for the purpose of professional networking. After all, if Twitter is to be used for personal branding, and not advertising, a business card must still be a viable option for lawyers hoping to generate new business from prospective clients. To this, Jay responded in the negative:

I don’t think there’s a distinction to be made between professional networking and client generation. It’s one and the same. Most of my clients over the past 17 years have come from professional referrals, and my “brand,” such as it is, was created through PR, public speaking, and (more recently) social media. Of these, social media has been far and away the most effective.

This being the case, it seems that in order to remain modern and versatile, lawyers may soon be tossing their business card in favor of social media avenues such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, for both networking and client generation purposes.

New Business Cards Should Be Social Media Friendly

For lawyers who are hesitant to get rid of their business card, Heather Morse of the Legal Watercooler has several interesting suggestions on how business cards can be modernized to reflect the changing model of the practice of law. Heather believes that a new incarnation of the business card should be more inviting as far as social media is concerned.

For example, Heather thinks that a lawyer’s business card, in addition to stating the firm’s website and office location, should also include:

  • A personal Twitter account;
  • A LinkedIn profile;
  • A blog URL;
  • A Facebook page (business or personal);
  • An e-mail address; and
  • A phone number (preferably a cell phone number for texting).

Each of these additions will serve to make the business card more personal and social media friendly. At the same time, providing such social media links on a business card will promote online networking for those who may not be up-to-date with the changing landscape of legal practice in 2011.

Will You Be Tossing Your Business Cards?

While I agree that the business card must be modernized to reflect the social networking profiles that we have established, I am not ready to completely write off the business card as a thing of the past, especially for the purpose of client generation. Although lawyers may welcome the future of legal practice with open arms, there are many clients who may still be living in another era in terms of technological advances.

Are you really willing to lose a potential client because he doesn’t have a Twitter account? I am not, and for that reason, I will be keeping my business card for the time being. I will, however, be updating it to include my social media profiles. Lawyers, what are your plans for your business card? Please feel free to discuss your ideas in the comments section.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kurafire/4447158275/)