Twitter

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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Courtney Love

* Parties in Utah’s gay marriage case are boosting their legal backbones. Utah picked up Gene Schaerr, of Winston & Strawn, who is leaving the firm to serve as lead outside counsel. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called upon Randy Mastro of Gibson Dunn to assist with Bridgegate’s fallout. Because messing with people’s commutes into New York City is that big of a deal. [Am Law Daily]

* Come next year, Yale Law School will be joining the majority of law schools located on this planet by holding its fall finals before winter break. They’ll still be studying anyway… just for fun! [Yale Daily News]

* “Being in Portland … is hard to facilitate when you are based in Eugene.” Oregon Law, sadly unable to master the fine art of teleportation, will allow students to take their 3L classes in Portland as soon as in 2015. [National Law Journal]

* Courtney Love was in court this week testifying in the first “Twibel” (Twitter + libel) trial in the nation. Oh, that’s so interesting, but what America really wants to know is what she was wearing. [Businessweek]

The past year or so has been an epic period for snarky responses to cease and desist letters. We’ve seen hilariously irreverent responses to C&D letters telling off the likes of Starbucks, the American Bankers Association, and the Township of West Orange.

And now Hollywood celebrities are throwing themselves into the mix. Which “seriously out of control” young actor just got saucy over Twitter in response to a lawyer’s letter?

Here’s a hint: Is this kid Lawless?

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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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Brains Billable hours…

* Let’s get ready to rumble! Senate Democrats are threatening to go “nuclear” on existing filibuster rules if Senate Republicans decide to band together to block Patricia Millett’s nomination to the D.C. Circuit. [New York Times]

* AMR Corp. and US Airways are reportedly trying to broker a deal with the Department of Justice that would allow the airlines’ merger to go through. And this is the room full of people who care. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

* Proskauer Rose and the zombie corpse of Dewey & LeBoeuf received a Halloween treat from Judge Martin Glenn in the MF Global case. The firms will each be receiving a combined $9 million for their work. [Am Law Daily]

* Twitter is facing a $125 million fraud suit filed by two financial firms claiming that the social media giant had them organize a private sale of shares and then canceled it. #OhShiat #LawyerUp [Businessweek]

* Jill Bjorkholm Easter, the lawyer accused of planting drugs on a PTA volunteer at her son’s school, has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment. Her hubby’s trial is next week. [L.A. Now / Los Angeles Times]

* She’s got the right to remain topless: Holly Van Voast, the photographer famous for roaming the streets of New York with breasts bared, settled a lawsuit against the city for $40,000. [New York Daily News]

* “Ed,” the anonymous editor of the defunct Blawg Review site, RIP. [Trial Warrior Blog; Simple Justice]

* President Obama defends Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act), saying that the dysfunctional HealthCare.gov website will get fixed. [Washington Post]

* “Calling All Unemployed Law Grads: Greenberg Traurig Is Hiring.” But there’s a catch. We’ll have more on this later today. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* The Supreme Court agrees to hear a case regarding how to determine mental disability in death-penalty cases. [National Law Journal]

* If you’re thinking of selling legal services over Groupon, proceed with care. [ABA via WSJ Law Blog]

* Want to get out of jury duty? Try flipping the bird at the defendant (which is what this Biglaw partner allegedly did). [ABA Journal]

* Chris Geidner takes a closer look at Chris Christie’s decision not to keep fighting marriage equality in New Jersey. Is it all about 2016? [BuzzFeed]

* More details on the circumstances surrounding a Reed Smith partner’s profane and ill-advised tweet. Expect Steven Regan to be sent back to “Tweet School.” [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

I mean, art teachers seem a little too calm.

* A high school teacher admits to taking heroin before teaching. But it was art class, so if he wasn’t on something it would have seemed weird. [Daily Mail]

* Reed Smith issued a statement on the complete meltdown one of its partners had over Twitter. They did not go ahead and tell the partner to “go f@ck himself and die,” so that’s a start. [Roll on Friday]

* Man fleeing police threw a parrot at the police officer to slow him down. The parrot bit the cop. Polly wants some bacon. [The Smoking Gun]

* Anyone read through the new Google Terms of Service? Well, they’re going to start using your name and profile in sharing your endorsements of music and restaurants. Here’s how you can opt out if you don’t want people to know how much you love Ace of Base. [Electronic Frontier Foundation]

* A veteran news reporter is suing the L.A. Times for discrimination after he was fired for not “taking it easy” on former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. The only person who went less easy on Frank McCourt was the former Mrs. McCourt’s lawyer. [Courthouse News Service]

* A financial trader is suing his lawyer brother because he lost a bunch of money investing in real estate from 2004 through 2007. It seems like something more significant might have happened to real estate around 2007. But hey, congrats financial traders! You’re officially worse than lawyers. [Daily Business Review]

* If reviews and endorsements aren’t honest, they undermine the entire process. [Associate's Mind]

* 13 Signs You’re a Law Student. [Thought Catalog]

* The House stenographer loses it during the shutdown debate. Have any court reporters done the same? [Chaos in the Courtroom]

* Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz of ESPN give an Illinois law student a hard time. The discussion begins at the 34:00 mark. And then they start making fun of the school’s ranking at the 39:00 mark. [ESPN]

Go f@ck yourself and die.

Steven M. Regan, a partner at Reed Smith, telling the folks at SCOTUSblog how he really feels, via Twitter.

(What on earth could have inspired Regan to act this way? Keep reading to find out.)

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