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When it comes to Twitter®, small and midsize law firms find themselves occupying something of a no-man’s land. On the one hand, small law firms are typically not as wellequipped to leverage Twitter as their larger peers, which tend to have bigger budgets, teams and follower counts. The sheer scale behind the operations at Kirkland & Ellis LLP (20,000 followers), Latham & Watkins (30,000 followers) or White & Case LLP (55,000 followers) just isn’t something that a small law firm will ever possess. From that perspective, they are “too small” for Twitter.
On the other hand, they are also “too big.” Yes, the BigLaw firms above that Tweet have racked up impressive followings, but what really thrives on Twitter are authentic voices—and those, more often than not, come from individuals. Take Neal Katyal, the opinionated and informative former acting solicitor general, now at Hogan Lovells. He has more than 50,000 followers, while his entire firm of more than 2,800 lawyers has roughly half that. When small firms create Twitter accounts, they are still speaking with a “firm” voice, which lacks the intimacy of (and usually tends to be more conservative in tone than) an individual account. Now that the bad news is out of the way, here’s the good: Whatever inherent disadvantages small and midsize firms face on Twitter and other social media platforms, many are using them in creative, interesting ways that help them stand out.
Here are five small and midsize firms that are using Twitter to engage their followers.
Nobody said that developing a Twitter strategy was easy. Or, if they did, D.C.–based litigation boutique Zuckerman Spaeder LLP is proving them wrong. The nationally known trial firm is new to Twitter in 2018, but has been using the platform as a simple way to promote its legal blog “ Suits by Suits.” The firm mixes in other news (like its recent placement on The National Law Journal® Midsize Hot List), but frequently uses the #suitsbysuits hashtag to spread the word about its blog posts, and establish the firm as a thought leader in litigation.
There’s more than one way to be a thought leader. You can put in all the work, write up your analysis and get noticed for it—and yes, that avenue sometimes pays off. But you can also earn some goodwill just for passing along the work of others. The fancy term for this is “curating,” and it can gain you a following. Ask Schuler & Lee, P.A., which has gained nearly 2,000 followers by actively sharing articles in a wide range of interest areas, from the opioid crisis to law school education.
Scrolling through the feed of a smaller firm like Ball Janik LLP, you may notice that pictures of their lawyers are included with every Tweet that highlights corresponding speaking engagements, new hires, wins and other updates. While this strategy may be more difficult for a large firm with thousands of lawyers, for a small firm it adds a personality and warmth to the Twitter feed and puts their lawyers forward as core to the firm’s brand.
If your firm has a well-defined business strategy, a Twitter strategy will probably suggest itself. Wolf & Pravato represents accident victims and takes on product liability claims. The firm’s Twitter account reflects that identity by linking to content with safety tips (e.g., “Six Beach Safety Tips for Summer”). It also had a regular feature on “Product Recalls of the Month,” which is a great way to reinforce the firm’s expertise in that area. Wolf & Pravato has been pretty silent on Twitter in 2018, but still has 10,000 followers.
Florida lawyers seem to get Twitter. The Florida Bar Association (@theflabar) has the least stuffy, most interesting Twitter account of any bar association withwhich we’re familiar. Wolf & Pravato (No. 4 above) and Schuler & Lee, P.A. (No. 3) are also from the Sunshine State. Add Bilzin Sumberg of Miami, which turned its 20th anniversary into an event on Twitter by creating a special graphic for its account page. It also has been using a #Bilzin20 hashtag to generate awareness of the firm’s anniversary and its ongoing public service efforts. These hashtags are used regularly throughout their feed, and combine with imagery to highlight the work that their lawyers and staff have done in the community over the past 20 years.
Whatever size your law firm, it’s clear that there are many ways to use Twitter as an effective tool in your marketing mix. Whether you use it to monitor your brand reputation, engage with clients, promote pro bono work, highlight thought leadership, summarize events or for some other creative purpose, it’s important to know what other firms are doing in this space to help you benefit from best practices, lessons learned and ultimately to understand how to best use this powerful communications channel. And as we see from the firms named above, along with many others, the creativity of smaller firms continues to stretch the boundaries of how Twitter is being used to grow audiences and increase brand awareness.