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Is the internet good or evil? Well, neither — the internet, just like the information you find on it, is really what you make of it. Some people use information for good purposes, and some use it for bad.

Here at Above the Law, we tend to see the internet as a force for good. We use our bandwidth on the web to entertain and to educate. Our view is that, in general, more information is good. With more information, people can make better choices about their lives and careers. Should I go to law school? If so, which law school? And what about law firms? Which firms are the best places to work?

But you can use the internet for anything, really. For some folks, to quote the popular song from the musical Avenue Q, The Internet Is For Porn — and so much more, from the shady to the downright illegal….

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Social media is no longer new. This month, Facebook turns ten, joining LinkedIn, which hit the decade mark back in May. Lawyers have been blogging even longer than that, with the earliest lawyer blogs launched fifteen years ago. Even the book on Social Media for Lawyers that I co-authored with Nicole Black has been out for nearly four years.

Yet after all this time, social media still has limited traction in the legal profession, with few firms using social media for its “best and highest use”: engaging and interacting with colleagues and clients. Instead, large firms treat social media as another marketing channel to disseminate firm news and press releases, according to a recent ATL study, while solos and smalls treat social media as a poor man’s search-engine optimizer.  It’s no wonder that many practicing lawyers deride social media generally as a waste of time and counsel their colleagues to focus on traditional in-person networking, like meeting colleagues for lunch or getting involved in bar associations, to generate visibility and referrals.

Still, I wouldn’t give up on social media yet. The fact that so few lawyers understand how to use social media correctly makes it a powerful tool for solo and small firm lawyers. Here are three ways to use social media to get the most out of traditional, in-person networking, and to create new opportunities for yourself:

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Throughout 2013, along with our friends at Good2BSocial, ATL researched the social media practices of law firms. The research had three components: (1) a review of the websites and social media profiles of the Am Law 50 across all public platforms, including an assessment of each firm’s publicly available content as well as social reach and engagement (number of followers, comments, etc.); (2) a survey of the firms themselves regarding the extent to which they are currently using social technologies and practices internally; and (3) a survey of the ATL readership to glean the perspective of practicing attorneys and other legal professionals.

We are publishing the results of this research in two stages. Back in December, we published a white paper summarizing our findings and analysis. (Sign up here to receive a free download of the paper.) Our findings show that, while the majority of the Am Law 50 are established on the major public social media platforms, their presence often exhibits only a token effort. Generally speaking, there is little evidence that Biglaw is addressing the social media landscape strategically rather than using it as just another marketing channel for firm news and press releases. That said, some Biglaw firms are distinguishing themselves with the reach, engagement, and creativity of their social media efforts.

Today we publish the second component of our findings: our inaugural Social Law Firm Index, where we identify which specific firms are making the most effective use of social media…

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The kid, however, does understand what ‘divorce’ means.

* In the annals of “do we have to explain everything to you idiots?” a woman is suing her lawyer for failing to explain that her divorce would end her marriage. [Gawker]

* Recess appointments make for strange bedfellows. Like C. Boyden Gray, the former ambassador to the EU, or William J. Olson, formerly a Director of the Legal Services Corporation, who are hoping the Supreme Court robs President Obama of his recess appointment power. Even though Gray and Olson were, themselves, recess appointments (they claim they were “real” recess appointments defined as “before the Democrats taught everyone to run fake sessions and pretend it’s a session). Or maybe “being partisan hacks in a conservative echo chamber” makes for strange bedfellows. [New York Times]

* Let’s check back in with Law Grad Working Retail and the unfortunate concept of G-G-MILFs. [Law Grad Working Retail]

* If you’re going to steal a car, turn off your phone first. The money quote is at the end of the article when the alleged thief makes the police detective an… interesting offer. [The Journal]

* The long-running debate over legal ethics and LinkedIn endorsements has prompted the networking site to change its settings to address concerns raised by the Florida Bar. Dare I “endorse” this move? [Daily Business Review]

* San Diego used to be on the lookout for racial profiling. Now they’ve just stopped caring and a bunch of folks are rightly concerned. But what more can you expect from a city founded by the Germans in 1904? [Voice of San Diego]

* Elie was on Mike Sacks’s Legalese It! this afternoon along with Professor Garrett Epps and Professor Lisa McElroy. Video embedded after the jump… [HuffPo Live]

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* Hughes Hubbard & Reed is doing its part to help fulfill wishes made in children’s letters to Santa at a time when the Post Office’s Operation Santa program is in desperate need. So to all you other Biglaw firms, the ball’s in your court. [USA Today]

* Judge Timothy Black cited Justice Scalia’s dissent to reject Ohio’s gay marriage ban. I’m sure this is a cite that warms the justice’s heart. [Associated Press]

* Professor Pam Karlan is off to become Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Voting Rights. Here’s the last article of the preeminent voting rights expert in her old role as a commentator at the Boston Review describing strange SCOTUS bedfellows. Good luck in the new job! [Boston Review]

* Good news for Florida lawyers! The Florida Bar has revoked its opinion banning LinkedIn endorsements and recommendations. Go back to patting each other on the digital back. [IT-Lex]

* Realtors are getting sued for using a home as a sex pad. Strangely enough, this isn’t even the first time we’ve talked about this at Above the Law. [New York Magazine]

* Do you have to work over vacation? Probably, but it’s worth researching. [TaxProf Blog via Corporate Counsel]

* We shouldn’t have been so surprised by the affluenza defense because North Texas is basically one big monument to the concept. [New York Times]

* Here’s an infographic showing the most popular TV show set in each state. What legal shows make the list? [Business Insider]

* The top 10 most ridiculous lawsuits of the year. Apple porn guy clocks in at a mere number 10? Outrage! Bigger outrage: they ultimately link to the HuffPo write-up of… the original Above the Law piece. Why no direct link, hm? Video embedded after the jump… [Faces of Lawsuit Abuse]

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Can Biglaw solve this puzzle?

Most every law firm — including 100 percent of the Am Law 50 — maintains a Linkedin company page. Or rather, “maintains” such a presence on that most buttoned-up of all the social media platforms. A quick look at the LinkedIn pages of the Vault top 10 shows that only two firms bothered to change their page’s default setting to display “Services” rather than the inapt “Products” tab on the navigation menu. (Kudos to Kirkland and Debevoise!) This might seem like the most trivial of nits to pick, but aren’t these firms defined by fanatical attention to detail? Yet this nonchalance is emblematic of Biglaw’s unsettled relationship with social media.

We can safely assume that Biglaw’s old guard just wants social media to get off its lawn already, but what data we have strongly suggests that, as organizations, firms believe — or act as if they believe — that engagement with social media is worth doing (pace Brian Tannenbaum). When we examine the particulars of how they are managing this engagement, firms should hope that there is truth to Chesterton’s dictum: “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly….”

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The ongoing legal fight, in which a bunch of US tech and internet companies — namely Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and LinkedIn — are suing the US government, claiming a First Amendment right to publish some details on the number of requests they get from the NSA under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, as well as the number of users impacted by those requests, is getting ever weirder. The government had filed its response back at the end of September. And, you might notice, large portions of it are totally redacted. For example, here is page 13 of the document (though, numbered page 8):

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* Referees go on a power trip and get arrested. [Legal Juice]

* Lawyers enjoy LinkedIn. They may not like it as much if these allegations are true. [IT-Lex]

* A New York lawyer is using Twitter to complain about Obamacare. This is what happens when there aren’t enough billable hours to go around. [New York Post]

* TSA lets 9-year-old through without a ticket or adult help. Our security is top-notch in this country. [Lowering the Bar]

* New York attorney Bradley Dizik is the working to save Detroit’s Masonic temple from its financial woes. How screwed is Detroit? Even the international Freemason conspiracy can’t help. [Detroit News]

* Interested in national security — and getting CLE credit? [Lawfare]

* A Georgetown Law student was killed over the weekend. On a personal note, I knew Mark and he was truly great guy and my thoughts go out to his family and friends. [Washington Post]

* Johnny Football failed to defeat Alabama on Saturday (though he was gentlemanly enough to keep Bama from covering the spread), but now he has a tougher foe in the IRS. [TaxProf Blog]

* Don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of your girlfriend. And definitely don’t be that guy who takes naked pictures of his 16-year-old girlfriend while married to the girl’s older sister. In other words, don’t be this lawyer. [Legal Profession Blog]

* Are you an attorney on LinkedIn? Have people been endorsing your legal skills? Congratulations, you’re probably violating an ethical obligation! [IT-Lex]

* Another round-up of people with law degrees who decided to be famous for something other than lawyering. When the list kicks off with Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer, you know you’re in for a classy list. [Millington Star]

* One year later, a look at how the Steubenville rape case has affected the town. [Jezebel]

* The world of litigation finance suffers some setbacks as it turns out lawsuits might be the only investment less stable than the Twitter IPO. [Wall Street Journal]

* Time for some more legally themed poetry! This time, let’s get all Edgar Allan Poe up in here. [Poetic Justice]

* Following up on our event in Toronto last week, Bruce MacEwen recapped the evening’s discussion here. [Adam Smith, Esq.]

This was the Twitter of Olden Times.

Seeing as law firms are among Earth’s last enthusiasts of Lotus Notes and fax machines, they can hardly be expected to be on the cutting edge of evolving social media technologies. As social media platforms and blogs were exploding over the last decade, most law firms did not engage. Firms continued to churn out the unread white papers and ignorable client alerts as part of their traditional marketing efforts.

This reluctance or skepticism has waned some in the last couple of years and given way to a wary appreciation of the positive role that LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, and similar sites can play in marketing, recruiting, client support and internal collaboration. A 2012 survey of lawyers and legal marketers by ALM Legal Intelligence attests to this shifting attitude. The survey had some striking findings. Among them:

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