Social Networking Websites

There is something admittedly odd about judges on Twitter. The stereotypical judge is stuffy, technologically challenged, and light on personality. Twitter, in contrast, is informal, tech-driven, and brimming over with quirkiness and individuality.

There are, to be sure, virtues to the traditional vision of the judge (well, maybe not the lack of tech savvy, but the other attributes). Judges who are formal, dry, and tight-lipped off the bench convey a strong sense of objectivity to the public and to the litigants who appear before them. These judges might not have much personality, but presumably they don’t have personal biases that would interfere with the impartial administration of justice. You might not want to have a beer with such judges, but you would want them handling your case.

So judicial tweeting might be unusual. Does that make it problematic? Should we have new judicial ethics rules to rein in judges on social media?

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Pack it in everybody! Mere days into the new year, there’s a 1L out there who has the “law” all figured out. He can isolate the relevant aspects of a case at first glance and his agile mind can dismiss a flawed reading with ease. He’s so prepared that he’s already talking smack about law school graduates. And he did it all on Facebook so we can see how smart he is. We are truly living in blessed times. He will restore balance to the law!

Now, some naysayers would suggest that a 1L a few days into their law school career has no place calling out the work of those who’ve come before as irrelevant and untrue. That perhaps singling out by name a law school graduate and questioning his legal acumen was excessive for a mere pup. Ignore those voices. You can’t silence genius like this.

Or arrogance like this….

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If you’re not online, then you’re losing traction (and clients) to the professionals cultivating a strong online presence through the act of blogging. The Internet is a communication ecosystem that amplifies the effect of lucrative referrals with “word-of-mouse spread[ing] even faster than word-of-mouth,” according to a Harvard Business School study, The Economics of E-Loyalty.

An Example of Traction Through Blogging

Within six months of launching the Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Dan Schwartz got the high sign that his blog was working:

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Kristina Marlow

Ed note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Kristina Marlow is a Director with Lateral Link’s D.C. office who brings almost 20 years of experience in the Washington legal market to her work with associate and partner candidates. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Kristina spent a decade at Gibson Dunn, first as a litigation associate and then as the D.C. office’s recruiting manager. A Michigan native, Kristina earned her J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center’s evening program and a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University, where she was named “Outstanding Senior.”

Dear Associate at a Biglaw Firm: I am the legal recruiter to whom you were introduced in a recent post on Above the Law. I am hoping we can connect regarding our shared interest in maximizing your use of LinkedIn…

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Our law firm does not have a Twitter account. But our consulting and patent monetization firm, Markman Advisors, does (@MarkmanAdvisors) — an active one, where we post about patent litigation-related events that are of interest to our followers. Twitter has become our number-one way of interacting with the investment community that is the target for our consulting and patent monetization services.

Yet our law firm still does not have a Twitter account — and I am not convinced it should. As a practicing litigator, I am reluctant to give out my opinions on legal issues through such a broad-reaching medium. Lawyers on Twitter either need to have a lot of guts, or follow the typical boring Biglaw marketing model. I am not interested too much in either approach.

Our engagement with Twitter is relatively recent, dating to the launch of our law firm and consulting practice. Prior to Twitter, our focus was on demonstrating our patent litigation bona fides via investor-focused articles on websites like Seeking Alpha and Harvest. The goal of that work was to demonstrate that Markman Advisors offered investors, inventors, and companies interested in patent situations a unique analytical approach, informed by our collective experience litigating big-ticket patent cases while at Biglaw firms. We were fortunate to build a following on those platforms, which led to meetings with the type of clients we were interested in representing. In the course of those discussions, we found out that for the investment community — traders, hedge funds, whomever — Twitter is a necessary and powerful communications tool.

Being lawyers, our first reaction was skepticism….

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When lawyers hear blogging they think marketing. Raising their visibility. Getting web traffic. Enhancing their reputation.

That’s all good, but blogging by lawyers can mean a heck of a lot more to our society. At the same time, lawyers can realize their business development goals through such blogging.

Take a couple cases. One is blogging on legal stories in the news. The second is blogging on current affairs.

Look at both cases, highlighted by developments in the last couple weeks:

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Earlier this year at the (shameless plug alert) Attorney@Blog Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Guy Alvarez and Joe Lamport, founders of Good2bSocial, a digital agency that helps law firms utilize social media and content marketing to improve their business.

Look, I will be the first to tell you how powerful a good content strategy can be for a business. I even left my cushy Biglaw salary to start a company in the content space. But #Biglaw? Even I was skeptical.

So I was shocked to hear of all the law firms who were being recognized at the conference for their work in social media. How exactly would a firm use Twitter or Facebook to drive business? I decided to invite Guy and Joe to participate in a conversation about the emerging role of social media in law firms….

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Kristina Marlow

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series of posts on lateral moves from Lateral Link’s team of expert contributors. Kristina Marlow is a Director with Lateral Link’s D.C. office who brings almost 20 years of experience in the Washington legal market to her work with associate and partner candidates. Prior to joining Lateral Link, Kristina spent a decade at Gibson Dunn, first as a litigation associate and then as the D.C. office’s hiring manager. A Michigan native, Kristina earned her J.D., cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center’s evening program and a B.A. in Journalism from Michigan State University, where she was named “Outstanding Senior.” She also worked as an appellate clerk, as an economic analyst for the federal government, and as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune.

More than a third of the almost six thousand mid-level associates who responded to The American Lawyer’s most recent survey reported that they use social networking tools for job-related purposes, more than ever. Of that third, 94% said that they use LinkedIn, “the one social network most lawyers feel most comfortable in using,” says Glen Gilmore, a lawyer and social media expert who ranks near the top of the Forbes list of “Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers.”

But many of the attorneys who join LinkedIn do so because they are “supposed” to have an online presence, and they appear reluctant to be fully committed members. Their LinkedIn contacts languish in the double (or even single) digits. Their pages do not have a professional picture (or, often, any picture at all). And their profiles lack enticing headlines that capture who they are and summaries that provide a synopsis of what they do….

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More Associates Are Using LinkedIn, But Not Well

The Riling family

I cannot believe how, just how generous and nice that was because you don’t see that very much anymore. Most people don’t take the time of day to do very much for anybody else, especially a stranger.

Sunny Riling, a Florida mom whose family recovered their lost camera containing treasured photos — with the help of a Biglaw partner.

(Read on to find out how….)

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Keith Lee

Yesterday over at Hercules and the Umpire, Judge Kopf noted an article from the Federal Judicial Center regarding social media use among jurors. Also in the article was a brief bit on social media use by attorneys during voir dire.

Most judges stated they did not know whether attorneys were using social media during voir dire, and most do not address the issue with attorneys before voir dire. Only 25 judges reported they knew attorneys had used social media in at least one of their trials, usually during voir dire. Attorneys may have used social media to look at prospective jurors’ Facebook pages, to run names through search engines, or to look at online profiles, blogs or websites. Of the 466 judges responding to this survey question, 120 do not allow attorneys to research prospective jurors online during voir dire.

Which caused Judge Kopf to ask: “So long as the use of social media by a lawyer in the courtroom picking a jury is discreet, why in the world would a federal judge interfere with a lawyer using social media to obtain information about jurors during the jury selection process? That doesn’t make any sense to me? ”

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