Last week, Kash mentioned social media guru and attorney Adrian Dayton in a post entitled “Social Media for Legal Types.” As a follow up, I thought I would reach out to Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black, authors of the recently published book, Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier. I first mentioned these two in March during the ABA Techshow.
The words “The Next Frontier” were added to signal that social media for attorneys is going into its next phase. To Elefant and Black, lawyers can no longer ignore the impact of social media on the law, but rather must embrace it fully. Lawyers will have to deal with this new form of communication in order to be collaborative with one another and responsive to their clients.
So what does this have to do with Biglaw? Social media is more for small firms and solos who need to use these tools to market themselves over the internet, right?
Actually, Elefant and Black believe social media can have a huge impact on Biglaw, especially in regard to its women lawyers. And law professors should read on too — it’s possible that advances in social media will render law review articles irrelevant…
“The way I like to tell it, I started my own law firm back in 1993, because frankly, a big law firm wasn’t big enough.”
That is the opening line of the About page from Carolyn Elefant’s blog, My Shingle. Elefant, author of the book Solo By Choice, is a noted energy attorney based in Washington, DC. She is also a former contributor to Legal Blog Watch.
After quickly realizing how social media could affect the legal profession, Elefant put together an “e-book” on the subject and began to market it at various legal conferences. Soon, the ABA approached her to author a book on social media. Elefant knew exactly the person she wanted to partner with on this project.
“I thought Nicole would be the perfect person for this. She is the queen of all things social media, as well as a book author herself.”
Nicole Black, a lawyer out of Rochester, New York, serves as Of Counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach. She also is the author of Criminal Law in New York through Thomson West. A self-described “geek,” she owns a small company called lawtechTalk, and frequently streams conversations with people over the internet on legal technology trends. A frequent writer for the Rochester Daily Record, she also constantly manages four or five legal blogs, including this one on legal uses for the iPad.). She is also currently working on another book with the ABA on cloud computing that is due out in January 2011.
I guess it should come as no surprise that I met both of them a few years ago, on Twitter.
ELEFANT: “When we finished this book a few months back, we mentioned that Facebook had amassed 350 million members. Now, just a short period later, Facebook has announced that they have 500 million members. It goes to show how fast social media is growing.”
According to the authors, it’s critical that lawyers think of social media beyond just Facebook and MySpace.
ELEFANT: “Using social media to be collaborative gives you an advantage. It is also important to establish your reputation online.”
Elefant mentioned social media tools such as JD Supra and LinkedIn as helpful for legal marketing needs. There are also information-crowd-sourcing websites designed for a legal audience, such as Lexology or MyLegal.com.
As an example of a lawyer making good use of social media, Black cited Evan Brown of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP as one lawyer that has really made headway on this. Brown is one of the authors of Hinshaw’s blog Practical Ediscovery, and uses it to post on technology and intellectual property trends.
In regard to women lawyers in Biglaw, Elefant and Black believe social media can help level the playing field.
ELEFANT: “Many female associates have trouble continuing their practice after having children, and going on flex time. Social media gives them the chance to continue marketing themselves during that period.”
In fact, Black will be speaking to King and Spalding, LLP next week in Atlanta on this very topic.
The book also addresses how to bolster a lawyer’s reputation online, time management issues, and ethics and best practices for social media.
Social media is good for lawyers, but what about law professors? I wondered whether it was possible that advances in social media could render law review articles and law journals irrelevant. Both Elefant and Black concur that those in the business of writing law review articles will have little to fear. With Elefant, although you could argue the irrelevancy of law journals, a good law review article is worth its weight in gold.
“Eighty percent of law journals are irrelevant now, but that doesn’t change the fact that a good law review article can actually move the law. It can be cited by judges and adopted by jurisdictions. I am actually surprised we haven’t seen more law review articles in regards to cloud computing, and other technology advancements”
Black compared social media and law journals to that of apples and oranges.
“I just think it’s two different categories,” she said. “Law review articles are more nuanced and scholarly, where legal articles through social media tend to be much shorter pieces.”
Gabe Acevedo is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and the owner of the e-discovery blog, GabesGuide.com. He also writes on legal technology and discovery issues for Above The Law. He can be reached at email@example.com.