Social Media Stupidity


Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common

For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.

I’ve been pretty sour on social media, lately, talking about blogging and social networks not as marketing magic but calculated risks best undertaken with no hope of reward. According to Scott Greenfield, the gurus are going the opposite direction, pushing social media on lawyers like never before. In Murdering Brain Cells, He calls out Jared Correia, Adrian Dayton, and Britain’s Legal Futures for inane social media advocacy. (He also gives shouts out to yours truly, and Avvo’s Josh King.)

You will never have a practice based on twitter, no one, but no one, will give a damn about your Klout. Your shiny gadgets may be enjoyable, and even helpful as tools in the performance of lawyerly functions, but no client will ever throw money at you because you have an iPhone and twit incessantly.

But the question remains whether you will have any brain cells left before lawyers come to the realization that this is all an inane to separate you from your money.

Read Murdering Brain Cells on Simple Justice.


Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions
  • It’s really quite interesting. People like Adrian Dayton have created their own market by hyping social media as the next “big thing”. According to them, it’s like there is this world of lawyers out there getting clients in left and right through Twitter, Klout, and Facebook.

    Some older people are like “Oh wow. I don’t understand it, but I sure don’t want to miss out!” I think they’re worried that they’re missing out on something that’s “big”.

    The reality of the situation is that, like you said yesterday, social media isn’t rocket science. I use Facebook to stay in touch with my friends from high school, college, and law school. It’s also good for sharing cat pictures with my wife.

    Do I get work in from Facebook? Eh, kinda sorta. But it’s usually from someone I know in real life who thinks it’s convenient to contact me via Facebook. “I remember you from high school, I have this legal issue, could we talk about it?” I’ve never had someone randomly find me on Facebook and say “Hi Random Lawyer, could you help me with something?” If that happened, I would be wary of them.

    Work from Twitter? No, Twitter is just fun to keep abreast of the legal blogosphere, Lindsay Lohan, and stuff like that. It’s a fun distraction.

    I think the modicum of communication has changed for our generation. My grandparents wrote letters. My parents talked on the phone. Now younger people just communicate with each other over social media. My primary communication with my wife is Facebook messenger while I’m at work because it’s easier. My grandparents still talk to their friends without Facebook, though. They simply don’t need it.

    There is no world of hungry clients looking for lawyers over Facebook and Twitter. That’s for sure. It’s just young people conveniently communicating with each other. Anyone who says differently is full of it.

    Social media is just one of many ways to utilize your social network, but it’s certainly not necessary. Or even the most effective way to do it. It’s fun and convenient, though. Not as fun as going to the bar with your friends, but it’s easy to use while you’re stuck at work.

    “Social Media Consultants” are people to try and exploit the ignorance of older people.

    Sadly, it’s working.

    • Do I get work in from Facebook? Eh, kinda sorta.

      This is also the best I can say for Facebook and Twitter. It’s sort of a reminder to people I already know that I’m a lawyer who does law things who they might want to contact if they have a problem. Very occasionally, that has resulted in business that I probably would have gotten anyway.

  • Mike

    I’ve never directly gotten a client through any form of social media (including blogging and twitter) though I’m active in both areas.

    But when I do attract a potential client, their usual first step is to google me, and they see the many things I’ve written in my practice areas, my unusually large social media “footprint”. All of which adds to my perceived reputation as an expert in my field.

    Social media has also led to opportunities to write for trade publications, speak to the media, etc. Which are also reputation-bolstering.

    So while there’s been no direct impact, the indirect benefits have been enormous.

    • shg

      I was kinda with you up until the last word. While no one “finds” you online, potential clients and adversaries certainly google you to see if you’re real. If you don’t have an online presence, you don’t exist today, sad as that may be.

      I doubt the size of your “footprint” matters to much of anyone. A webiste and maybe a linkedin profile will do. A blog can help or hurt, since most blogs suck and are more likely an embarassment than an aid.

      And you do get the occasional media interview, but that’s more ego than anything else. In the past 10 days, I’ve been in the WSJ, NLJ and Christian Science Monitor. Not a call. But then, you probably remember me from when I was the regular legal analyst on Fox and Friends in the 90s, before the internet. You don’t? Neither does anyone else. No one remembers the lawyer. Getting interviews isn’t the problem. The problem is that interviews don’t do much beyond massaging a lawyer’s ego.

      So there are no direct impacts, but there are indirect. But enormous? Nah. And this is why the 10,000 lawyers all playing the social media game aren’t the 10,000 most wealthy and famous lawyers in the nation. Because it may make you feel good, but doesn’t really get you anywhere, no matter what the marketers say.

  • I have never figured out the best way to link blogging to money and am not sure there is one. When folks ask me about it, I just tell them they have to enjoy it. I have had clients looking for a construction attorney say they found the blog but that’s the first step, I always grill them after that. I also find the blog to be a pretty good screening mechanism. I am not subtle about being a construction lawyer representing mostly contractors so when I get a call that starts with “do you take X type of case” I’m pretty sure the answer will be “no.”

    In short, you need an online presence and I believe a good blog can work in your favor, but can’t give any thoughts on time blogging translating in to dollars.

    • My consumer blog was (and still is, for other lawyers) absolutely a huge source of referrals. However, I don’t pretend to know how to replicate that success (which probably has a huge element of random luck) or I would be selling my magic formula.

  • Great article and comments.

    Here’s my experience with social media. Clients (especially younger ones) expect their lawyer to have some social media presence. On rare occasions, I’ve received a call prompted by a LinkedIn profile or my personal FB page. My firm’s FB fan page doesn’t get a lot of activity, but I’m not heavily promoting it. Zero clients so far from Twitter, but I use it for fun, to stay up to date on legal issues affecting my practice, and for links to practice management articles (almost like an rss feed). I’ve received a few new matters directly tied to one or two blog posts on my firm’s website. Other than that, we’ve never signed up a new client strictly from our website. That’s fine, since the people who have contacted me from the website are generally not my target clients.

    I’ve asked many colleagues about their experiences with social media. Their experiences are the same as mine.

    I know the social media consultants will respond by saying the lack of clients from social media is because I’m not doing social media correctly (or spending enough money on social media consultants). There’s probably some truth to that, but I’m convinced that client development is still based on personal connections. Social media can play a role in that process, but for me, it’s a very small part of the process.

  • shg

    The one place where social media seems to work well is with unusual niche practices where potential clients can’t find a lawyer who specializes. Other than that, no amount of money seems to matter, and from the great many people I’ve talked to, social media has never returned on their investment. Fun? Sure. Business, not enough to make it worthwhile.

  • A potential client wanted to hire me because they read my tweets about Phil Collins, and believed I was a good fit for them, because the client loved Phil Collins. Clearly, social media is working.

    • But did you get hired?

      • Absolutely. Sus-sussudio.

        • shg

          And that makes, let me count, one client? How soon before you plan to open a second office?

        • Social media magic!

          It’s kind of like the other day when Leo recommended a coffee roaster in Philly that I’d never heard of and I spend $15 on a pound of Rwandan beans. Only 10,000 more social media magic moments like that, and it will be moderately profitable!

  • There’s no doubt that social media/networking is over-hyped, misrepresented, misused, misunderstood and has become largely a time and money suck for many people, lawyers included.

    And the same can be said for websites, blogs, email, practice management software, television/radio advertising, billboards, business cards, yellow pages advertising, attending professional networking events and a myriad of other things that business owners and lawyers buy.

    On the one hand, you absolutely don’t need any of this stuff.

    On the other hand, as implied above, it’s just not true that no one is benefiting from these tools.

    Is a hammer going to build a house for you? Nope.

    Do you need a hammer consultant? Maybe not, but some people do.

    Can you build a house without a hammer? Sure. Can you build it faster with a framing nailer? Yes, if you know how to use it…

    But then again, what do I know, I’m just a scum bag marketeer…

    Commence trolling now.

    • shg

      Your hammer analogy sucks.

  • I also agree that social media is not an effective direct marketing/advertising vehicle for attorneys (or most other businesses).

    However, it is playing an increasing role in search results, which are critically important. Google has stated publicly that they are now using aggregate social media activity, or “social signals”, to establish “social proof”of a given page’s relevancy to a user search query.

    Clearly that does not mean that tweeting 100 times has value, but it is a powerful statement as to establishing and maintaining an overall social presence.

    • Critically important for marketing, you mean, of course.

      • Certainly, “marketing” but in an ever-broadening sense. Specifically, for those in the sub-40’s group, a lack of web presence implies a lack of importance. A potential client may get a referral to your firm, do a bit of web research, and be concerned with a lack of presence.

        That said, as a small business person myself my entire career, I totally understand how all this is an immense pain in the a## when you’re trying to actually practice law.

  • Everyone makes good points here and even though I believe tweets and Facebook fan pages don’t drive much business for attorneys it is increasingly harder to ignore them. There is much more of an indirect value to the social media tools than has been said.

    Someone nailed it earlier with Facebook – it may not bring a random to your table, but it reminds friends and contacts that you are an attorney and you can help them with their legal need. Linked-In somewhat reaches into this category, but much less effectively.

    Twitter shouldn’t be used to “get new clients”, but used to read/distribute information that could be valuable, funny or educational. If you write a blog post you have a much greater chance that more readers will find it through twitter than your personal blog or website visitors (if you’re relatively active in the community). This can turn into spreading your content (and backlinks) organically and increase your websites authority with search engines.

    Social Media isn’t for everyone, but you can’t say it’s worthless. I’d save your money hiring a “social media consultant.” If you can pass the BAR, you can set up and manage your social media accounts.