Lawyers, Is It Time to Toss Your Business Cards?


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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.



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  • Remember how when cell phones came out everyone ditched their business cards because you could just hand your phone to someone and let them enter their contact information?

    Yeah, didn’t think so.

  • Remember people “beaming” their business card using their Palm Pilots? Look how well that turned out! I think the business card is still going to be here for a while, but I also agree that it should include social media info. Just as long as it can be done without making the card look too crowded and “busy,” which could make the other person feel a bit overwhelmed with info.

    • Good point, the question is more what should be on your card, not whether you should have one. It’s probably time for business cards to go ahead and ditch the fax number. Nowadays, faxes are often simply handled through the firm’s e-mail, with the document scanned and sent as a pdf e-mail attachment. Having your e-mail on the card makes the fax number redundant.

      Likewise, if your blog has a prominently displayed Twitter button, and your Twitter account links to your blog, maybe only pick one of the two to list.

  • I see the value of exchanging social media contact information, but at the same time, how will all of that information be transferred to another person? We don’t expect clients, friends, or colleagues to memorize our phone numbers or websites, so we write them down and pass the information along. The most professional way to do this is with a business card. The business card won’t go by the wayside, but I do see these social media additions becoming more ubiquitous in the next few years.

  • John

    As long as we humans continue to interact in the physical world, we’ll need business cards. Just make sure you do a good job of merging your online and offline presence.

  • Lawyers should not ditch their business cards unless they think Bump is a good way to acquire contact information.

    • At ABA Tech Show last week, someone asked if I would Bump them my contact info. I don’t use Bump.

      So I handed him my business card. It’s unclear to me if he knows how to use one, but we’ll see.

  • shg

    While neither Jay nor Heather are particularly persuasive on the subject, as both have a horse in the race, I was very moved by Staci’s introducing her personal point of view on the issue, now that she has almost a full year since graduating from law school and even though she has yet to get her first job as a lawyer. I truly value Staci’s opinion.

    • Max

      Hey, Greenfield, how about, rather than being such a troll, you actually provide a reasoned slice of opinion or disagree with something substantive here? I’d take inexperienced opinion any day over pure snark.

      • I must agree; let’s be civil here, folks! Let the young lady express her opinion and respect what she has to say, whether we agree with it or not.

  • Alas, business cards will continue to be needed. For depositions with lots of attorney participants, the business card collection by the court reporter will be a fixture for some time.

  • I’m not out to criticize Jay, but I was at Techshow as well and I picked up a lot of business cards. Of course, I used those cards to see if I could find some people on Twitter and Linked-In. No one asked to “bump” me, which was good because my iPad doesn’t do the bump.

    I think that a set of 500 business cards probably lasts much longer now than it did ten years ago, but it will be another 10 years before we see very many lawyers who don’t use cards at all.

  • I think I must have given Eric a dozen of my own cards, so there’s that. As for the bumping, Aaron, some woman asked me to do that to her. I took it the wrong way. #awkward

    Nice article, Staci. Well written and authentic, which is exactly what it needs to be. Thanks for including me.

    — Jay

  • I think it’s overkill to stuff your business card with every possible social media link, as most social media profiles have room to include links to other social media profiles.

    When I got new business cards last year, I ditched the fax number and replaced it with my Twitter handle, since I’m active on Twitter. Of course, the front of the card also contains my snail mail address, e-mail address, phone number and website. The back of the card contains a call to action: an invitation to visit my website to download a free guide about how to work with freelance lawyers (I’ve been a freelance lawyer for 16 years).

    When I receive a business cards from someone, I send a follow-up e-mail within a few days that invites the person to connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, and also to subscribe to my monthly e-newsletter. Because all the recipient has to do is click on the links in my e-mail, I think this is more effective than including multiple social media links on my business card.

    • Jim

      Twitter, FB, Linked In, etc. are absolutely valuable tools every lawyer should avail themselves to. Is it necessary to include every social media site and contact on your biz card? I don’t think so.

      Picture this: Two lawyer’s business cards lay atop a desk. Both equally well designed and aesthetically pleasing. One however, beyond the traditional business card details, is appointed with every conceivable method of contact referenced above. Not knowing or having ever seen the card owners; how would this influence your perception of these individual lawyers?

      Some may say subscribing too then squeezing every conceivable method of contact on to a business card is overkill. Others may say it conveys that one is accessible, tech savvy and on the “Bleeding edge” of a modern law practice.

      Personally, I think Lisa S. has the right approach. Stick to the basics on a well designed business card which of course has, amongst other things, your website URL. It is here – On your website or personal bio page that all your auxiliary methods of contact should be listed – Easily accessible to whoever is interested at the click of a mouse.

  • I’m pro tech as much as the next guy. But doing away with the tactcile card, and handshake that comes with it, would be foolish.

    And honestly, how many handles do you want to list on your card? Unless you’re just trying to pass yourself off as a social media “guru” it can possibly look a little foolish and, dare I say, desperate.

  • Maybe I can just give clients my twitter account instead of a business card… I’m sure that will go over well…
    Better yet, maybe I we don’t need anymore pens or pencils since it’s now a virtual world…
    That would be great, I soon won’t need a suit either, I’m sure personal injury clients would be happy to videoconference with me rather than meet with me in person.

    The people who think they can throw away their business cards probably won’t mind the NFL going on strike- who needs to actually play a real game… we can just stay at home and play NFL on XBox.

  • Lawrence Brenner

    The idea of getting rid of business cards in favor of a Twitter handle is silly. Many people don’t use Twitter and for those who do they don’t necessarily want to (1) communicate with you through your postings, or (2) pull out their phones in the middle of a conversation to add you to their Twitter account. You can’t even equate a business card with a Twitter handle – one is simple contact info and the other is a form of communication.

    I think Randall had the best point here and that was the possibility of a phone app replacing the physical business card. Right now I don’t think Bump is that app but it may be one day. For now it is not available on Blackberry and whatever you think of Rim, Rim still commands a nice market share – especially for lawyers. Also, for now, unless I am mistaken, it requires that both people exchanging information have the app.

  • As long as “personal touch” remains relevant which likely will remain as long as human beings remain the business card will remain critical.

  • “Do you have a card?” That’s the question I get asked at almost every meeting. And, if I’ve left my cards at home that day, I feel like crap. So, I’ll be keeping my business cards….in my wallet, my briefcase, my car, my leather-bound notebook, and everywhere else. Because a professional should never have to say “Sorry, I don’t do business cards.”

  • I’m sorry, but real lawyers doing really important things use normal business cards. I don’t care about your need to show your “personality” on your business card, nor your Facebook/Linked in/Twitter/blog garbage.

    • Your comment implies that “real lawyers doing really important things” don’t engage in branding (i.e., showing a personality). But when I visit your website, I see branding and an attempt to showcase your personality everywhere, including a snazzy video. This means (1) you aren’t a real lawyer, (2) you aren’t doing really important things, or (3) real lawyers doing really important things do need to show their personality and engage in branding. At least if they want to have clients to do really important things with.

      Of course, I agree with you that lawyers do need business cards. For style, if nothing else.

      • If “important things” is meant to mean highly profitable work, then this isn’t at all the type of branding that they use. They use Forbes and other major publications writing about their work.

      • Sam,

        I see your point. I am certainly trying to brand myself so the consumer (usually an honest injured soul who the insurance companies want to screw) will choose me instead of going down the road. I have just never seen anything other than the conservative lawyer business card in 15 years of practicing law. Plus, I go through a ton of them and can’t imagine them to be obsolete.

        That being said, I can see how a nontraditional card could be useful for areas such as entertainment law, sports law, technology law, certain types of patent law, etc.

        I do think that most all of the heavy hitting lawyers in any area of law (think BigLaw, PI, etc.) have pretty conservative business cards and will continue to do so.

        BTW, it is a damn fine snazzy video. Thanks.

  • In the past month, I’ve exchanged business cards with some folks who have taken it upon themselves to sign me up for their weekly newsletters. What do you all think of that – acceptable in this age or networking faux pas?

  • Unacceptable; in fact, I believe that it violates CAN-SPAM.

    • I agree that it is unacceptable, but I am sure that sending an email to a contact—or even a stranger—does not violate CAN-SPAM. The U.S. is an opt-out country. You can basically send anyone an email until they tell you to stop, as long as you provide the CAN-SPAM disclosures. (It is CAN spam, after all, not CAN’T.)

  • The email signature is definitely the effective digital business card of today hyperlinked to twitter, facebook, webpages, rss feed, etc…

    • Try to limit yourself to one link. If your website makes the blog portion easy to find, and there’s a clear Twitter button, that’s all you need. If it doesn’t, then you just need to redesign your site.

      One of my writers (I won’t name names, but it rhymes with Doctor Bob) recently added like 4 different links to his signature. I’m sure it was at the bequest of his publisher or agent, but it just looks like a needless cry for attention. Give me one good link and I might follow it; give me 4 and I’ll assume they’re all crap.