Reflections, Experiences and Lessons Learned about Social Media for Lawyers

Reflections, Experiences and Lessons Learned about Social Media for Lawyers

Social Media: You're STILL Doing it Wrong

This past week Jews observed the holiday of Rosh Hashanah which is the New Year on the Jewish calendar.  Happy 5771. Right now we are in the middle of the Aseret Yemei Tshuva or the 10 Days of Awe, the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. It is supposed to be a time of introspection and repentance. It's a good time too look back and the past year, or even the past few years if necessary, and to think about where you've been and where you are going.

In February 2009 I left the large law firm that I was working for, and started my own solo practice. When I opened my doors, metaphorically at least, I had no clients. But I even before I began my practice, I decided, and knew that I was going to do things "differently." Being an internet addict, my plan was that I was going to build my law firm entirely based on online marketing. I would blog. I would tweet. I would use LinkedIn. I would participate in forums and ListServs.

But most important was belief that if I built it, they would come.

I actually, and naively, thought that this was a good idea.  Even more naively, I thought that it was my idea and that no one ever had really done it before.

It turns out, that none of that was true.

First, I was certainly not the first person to come up with the idea that a law practice can be successful by only marketing online.

Second, while an online presence is important -- very important -- abandoning the real world is real mistake.

We need to do the same thing both online and offline.  That is we need to build relationships with other people based upon trust.

There's nothing new about networking offline, so I really don't have much to add to that discussion. I would like to talk today and tomorrow about some thoughts I have re: lawyers and the internet. It doesn't matter how fancy my website is or how many times I post on Twitter, or even how many handshake and business card exchange events that I go to. They way for me to generate business is to show people that I am worthy of their trust.  I had to develop real relationships with real people.

"Social Media" is just a fancy way of getting to know people and allowing people to get to know you online.  That's it.

So how do I use the internet?

First and foremost, I use it to learn.

I try to read as many other blogs written by attorneys as I possibly can. I have over 1000 posts in my RSS reader every day. Part of why I do this is to learn about the law, especially developments in the field of estate planning, probate, and tax. But I'm also looking to see what other attorneys (and some non-attorneys) have to say about others areas of the law, or about technology, or marketing, or politics, or anything.  I obviously don't read 1,000 posts a day every day.  Some days I read none of them. Mostly, I'll just quickly skim headlines to see if anything catches my eye, and then flag it for reading later.

However, I'm becoming more and more disappointed and disillusioned with the legal blogosphere. Yes, I know that I don't post as much as I should either, but when I do post, I try to post something of substance. Of meaning.  Of value. One thing that drives me nuts when reading other lawyer blogs, is when the attorney-author is so obviously straightforward about their advertising. It's the constant "call to action" that they put at the end of every post. If you read my blog carefully, you'll notice that I NEVER say, "and if you need a will, please call me at 954-990-0896." Even worse are the people who talk about themselves in the third person as in "please call David."

I don't think it's effective.  Worse, I think it's schlocky.

I blog (when I blog, I'm trying to do it more often) because I like to write.  I like to write about the things that interest me, and I hope that you, Dear Reader, find them interesting too.  Do I hope that people will notice me and say "hey, that guy seems pretty smart and is someone I can trust" and hire me or refer me their clients?  Of course I do, and to say otherwise would be dishonest.

But I also hope that when you come away from one of my posts, you learned something that you didn't know beforehand.

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Visit South Florida Estate Planning Law for more commentary from Florida estate planning attorney David Shulman.

David Shulman is an attorney located in South Florida who focuses his practice on Wills, Trusts and Estates, and Tax Planning. He attended George Washington University Law School and Brandeis University, both of which he graduated with honors. In addition David received his LLM in Estate Planning from the University of Miami Law School. Prior to starting his own practice, David worked for the Internal Revenue Service and a large South Florida law firm.