Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Twitter: Value for your Law Practice?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I just completed my first year using Twitter is -- reduced to its most basic - a real time scroller (like the ones you see on FOX News and CNN) for the goings on in life - news, rumors, gossip, etc. That holds true today. The news on Urban Meyer's resignation came to me via Tweet on my iPhone.

I had heard and read from many who said Twitter was an "absolute must" for a law firm or lawyer. After one year, I can't say it's a must. I am able to assess it and make these conclusions:

1.Twitter as a breaking news source: Quite good. I follow Anderson Cooper and others. On Twitter you were able to get a near ring-side seat for events ranging from the attacks in Mumbai to the ridiculous balloon boy.

2.Twitter for expanding your blog's visibility: For me, this one gets a partial grade of a C, as I think it's to be developed. This blog is ranked highly among lawyer blogs in terms of popularity (even in my niche). Twitter has given my blog a little push when I 'tweet' about a new blog post. Increasing my visibility as a lawyer is of course a goal. Where the end result for me and my firm's visibility is Google results. I have seen a small uptick.

3.Twitter for gaining new clients or potential clients:I practice consumer law - helping those who were injured because someone else was at fault in some act. I can tell you that Twitter had zero effect in developing clients. I first started - naively to be candid - to believe that Twitter would be mechanism for business development. Not so. In the future? Maybe. Just not now for me at least. If you're a personal injury lawyer who has actually developed clients from Twitter, I want to hear from you. If you're a personal injury lawyer, you make a mistake if you think Twitter will increase your client base.

With several different websites for my firm, I will tell you that websites (and blogs) will be by far the best way to spend your time if you you hope to develop business from the web for the near future.

On this blog earlier this year, I posted what one lawyer thought of Twitter:

9 Reasons You Need Social Media Marketing in 2009. Among those are:

4. More Social = more Search.
More Search = More Customers.
More customers = More business.

That is simply not the case in the PI area.

I have switched from believing that (in my field) Twitter would work to increase my client base, to one where I decided to follow other lawyers with helpful news and information. This leads to the next item:

4. Twitter as a resource: I have been able to locate vendors and support persons thanks to Twitter. I did so by actively seeking someone to, for example, help me with service of process in a Pacific state.I was able to find a vendor for office products. Could I have used Google to accomplish the very same thing? Probably, but I wanted to see what Twitter could or could not do.

I have tried to use Twitter to refer a number of matters, and it's just not there yet. In my practice, groups like the AAJ and my state bars are the best source for me to find someone to assist on a legal matter. According to, there are 5856 lawyers with some form (inactive or active) of Twitter account. One list serve I belong to has more than 7,000 member subscribers.

It's probably too early to give Twitter a ringing endorsement, and too early to pan it. For me it's one more piece of my overall business effort. The 'ground war' is going to meetings, having lunches and visits with lawyers, and joining affinity groups in my city. The "air war" is my web presence, and Twitter will likely be a part of that effort.

This is my list of items so far. I'll be updating with more items later.

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