Category Archives: Law, Lawyers and Social Media

Exploring issues around how lawyers and law firms use social media, including Twitter, LinkedIn and, to a lesser extent, Facebook

Hey Look! That’s Me! – A Test For Client Confidentiality and Social Media

I spotted a twitter exchange yesterday that caused me some concern.

A case was being discussed on Twitter that referred to identifying features. No names were mentioned and in that sense, at least, the clients were anonymous.  However, the details being discussed, such as appointments, some figures and issues would have been enough for the clients concerned to identify themselves in a flash.

I cannot recall where I learnt this “Hey look, that’s me!” test for confidentiality.  I do not know if it is enshrined in protocol or case law – perhaps a reader might care to tell us – but it makes perfect sense.

If a client can recognise themselves then that is perhaps the lowest cognitive bar we can set.

That is no reason to disregard that low bar, or dismiss it with an argument that “No-one else would know who it was.”  After all, if the client complains to us or relevant supervising bodies, then that will be more than enough to land us in hot water.

This incident also highlighted another issue.  We need to be diligent ourselves in testing confidentiality, but also in pointing out possible problems to one another.

By doing so we can self police effectively.  The alternative is likely to be a blanket ban or some other hysterical over-reaction.

I hope that if I have such a lapse in future that someone would quickly send me a direct message discretely to point out a possible problem.

I also hope that I would receive it with the same good grace and politeness that my Twitter friend did.

In the words of High School Musical “We’re all in this together…”

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Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

When Law Firm Social Media Goes Bad.

I was reading through my LinkedIn updates a few moments ago and read the following;

  • Craig Holt
    Craig Holt Unexpected events such as the shootings in Cumbria can leave loved ones in unexpected legal and financial… http://fb.me/By6ukJw9 via Twitter
  • My poor taste alarm bells were ringing in a flash.

    The link did go through to a Facebook page which looked like this;

    Now, I do not know what is going on here.  I have tweeted what appears to be the Quality Solicitors twitter account to ask whether they are being attacked by mischievous sorts and will let you know if I receive a response.

    But given that there appears to be a concerted effort to spread this rather surprising selling message across LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, I would be surprised if that were the case.  It’s on their website as well, so I have to presume this is sanctioned.

    At the moment it looks as though Quality Solicitors are genuinely putting out this message.  I hope they prove me wrong.

    What lessons are there to be learnt from this?

    Think very carefully about putting edgy stuff “Out there”.

    Is it going to offend anyone?  If it is, that in itself is not automatically a reason not to do it, but how is that potential offence going to impact your law firm?

    Secondly, think about who you are teaming up with.

    The Quality Solicitors brand is a national service that has high street firms sign up to benefit from the collective name, brand and profile that Quality Solicitors can offer.  Bearing that in mind, how many of those firms will approve of this message and how does it reflect back on the component firms?

    I suspect this story has some way to go, but let me have your thoughts below, especially if you are one of the subscribing firms.

    As Johnny Ball from “Think of a Number” might have said, social media can be a lawyer’s best friend.  It could also be their worst enemy.

    UPDATE

    Having just revisited the Quality Solicitors website I see that the comments seem to have been deleted from the Twitter feed.  Hopefully this might indicate that this was not a sincere attempt to sell but was a malicious event.

    I am aware that I had previously blogged favourably on Quality Solicitors’ initiative.  I want to see them succeed for the sake of the profession and all their subscriber firms. Here’s hoping they haven’t dropped the baton.

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    Just Look at Where Your Social Media Got You!

    If you were to look back at my very first naive entry on this blog, you will see this aspiration;

    “One day I would love to be presenting on this stuff.”

    In September, I will be presenting on this stuff at not one, but two events.

    The first is the international Mediation Business Summit. I will be joining a stunning line up of speakers to explore how my colleagues within the alternative dispute resolution (ADR), mediation and collaborative law industry can develop our businesses.

    If you are interested in finding out more, registering your interest for one of the strictly limited 250 tickets or seeing my mugshot, then go and have a look here.

    I will be speaking as part of a panel to close the event on Saturday 18th September.

    In the following week I am presenting a workshop for Resolution, being the leading family law association in UK, at their national ADR Conference to be held in Oxford.  The topic? Again, growing your business.

    In both cases I will be speaking very clearly about the way that I have used social media to define, communicate and build trust, and new business, with referrers of some excellent work, and direct with new clients.

    I will also be showing how social media enables us to demonstrate expertise and also break out of our silos and bring in practices and attitudes from other industries – often with startling results.

    The last 15 months have been awesome.  A key part of that progress and business development has been, without a doubt, the social media I have engaged with.

    I hope that, in September, I can encourage others to get started and stick with it.

    I still remember the sage advice my good friend and mentor @dmje told me;

    “Sign up for Twitter and give it a fortnight.”

    I did and haven’t looked back since.

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    Filed under An End To Silo Thinking, General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

    How Lawyers Could Use the iPad

    alternative Blog title post: “Tell You What I want, What I Really Really Really Want…”

    Okay, imagine this.

    You are sat around the board room table in a commercial meeting, or at a desk with your client.

    Perhaps you are running a collaborative law meeting.

    Imagine if you each had an iPad in front of you. On my iPad is an illustration or graph that I want to share with the other people in the meeting.

    I open the file on my screen and flick it in the direction of those I want to share it with. It then transfers by bluetooth or some similar magic onto their iPad.

    Someone else wants to refer to an earlier letter, so they open up their document and we can all see what is being referred to.

    We have a successful session and want to draw up heads of agreement there and then so we work collaboratively on the document right there.

    Or the meeting is not quite that successful and so we need to go away and reconvene later.

    What are our agreed progress points? What about action points? Who is going to do what? That can all be recorded, right there and then and diarised to all our synchronised diaires, with reminders, in a stroke.

    What is more, all of this is recorded real time. What documents were referred to, which were shared with whom? Attendance notes can be created as we go through the session with no need for time consuming dictation afterwards.

    The potential is vast. If someone comes up with this – synchronised iPad as a conference tool – I will find it very hard to resist the iPad. What is more law firms might see merit in providing iPads for clients – either at reduced rate or as a law firm branded merchandise.

    I can’t wait to see what might happen…

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    Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

    From Tesco Estate Agency To Tesco Law

    Thanks to @paulhajek for flagging up this article;

    “NEWS FLASH: Tesco bounces back into property market

    Thursday 4th March 2010

    Tesco is back in the estate agency market with the launch of Spicerhaart’s brand new offering, called iSold.

    The new brand, whose slogan is ‘We simply sell homes’, has chosen Bristol for its national launch. Actual launch day has not been announced but is expected this weekend with local newspaper advertising apparently booked.”

    Only recently I was being reassured by someone that Tesco had failed in Estate Agency and their forays into law would be similarly doomed.  I thought that was complacent at the time.  This form of complacency is ofen repeated and I have blogged on it once or twice already.

    The Complacency Of Failure

    There is a phenomenom that runs like this this.

    A new initiative in providing professional services fails.  The failure of that particular initiative is then seized upon as demonstration that intiative as a whole is not required, will never succeed and that “The way we have always done it” will be the way we always will.

    That, dear readers, may enbale the conservative (small c) wings of our professions to sleep at night, in complete denial of massive impending change, but it does not hold water.

    Tescos have had previous forays into estate agency.  They failed. So what.  Fail quickly and move on.

    I still think the brand name iSold is awful.  The bandwagon jumping lower case I prefixing an adjective or verb is so hackneyed already.

    And that logo “We simply sell homes” is like something out of branding kindergarten.

    Reader’s Comments

    The comments on the post are interesting also.

    Try this from Harry Shitemove, probably not his real name.

    “you get what you pay for when it comes to personal service”

    or this

    “This is like the dotcom bubble all over again. I give them 18 months max. The only time you should be worried about a competitor is when they charge more than you. Tesco’s management are well respected, but this is a massive error on their part. They should stick to what they know, flogging me donuts and tasty sandwiches”

    but perhaps, most odiously, as in a really rancid stench, is this very proud and handsomely paid estate agent who loudly proclaims;

    “Ha Ha Ha Every Little Helps… If I got a 1k fee for selling a house then i wouldn’t get out of bed. VERY TRUE. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR ! ! !”

    What do I pay an estate agent for? To sell my house, not for a relationship.

    Now, if the model gives me full online access to records of all enquiries, written comments on viewings, records on all follow-up calls and feedback from viewers, then I do not need to be kept holding on an estate agent’s phone line or waiting for calls to be returned.

    The future is coming.  Please try to stay awake while it happens.

    46 Comments

    Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media

    Give A Man A Tweet And He’ll Tweet For A Day…

    NeilDenny

    Talking to a firm who have “someone in” to do their Twitter account. Result? 8 followers. Where’s the ROI on that?

    @NeilDenny depends .. how much have they invested in taking part in twitter. getting someone IN is like admitting , we dont care enough.

    NeilDenny

    …or “We’d like to but aren’t confident in our skills.” We shouldn’t be TOO dismissive. We should reassure, inform and encourage

    Such was my recent Twitter exchange.

    I need to be careful as I have been invited IN to assist with a company’s Twitter on their behalf.  However, what is crucial in doing that is that I let go off the Twitter account as soon as possible.

    If I give them a few tweets, that is completely meaningless and has close to zero value.

    Scratch that.  It has NO value.

    However, if I can establish presence and momentum, then it seems to me that the company can see the point in tweeting and will want to maintain that conversation within their field.  This is about more than followers of course. How many people are we communicating with?  Is this bilateral or simply broadcasting.  Are tweets being picked up and re-tweeted?

    So, give a man a tweet and he’ll tweet for day, show him how to tweet and he’ll tweet for ever.*

    We can reassure, inform and encourage, that is after all, how many of us got tweeting in the first place.  Many companies and individuals will simply not get past those first breakers as they embark on their first tweeting expeditions.  They have no context, no momentum and no presence and so simply abandon their newly launched Twitter accounts and head back for shore.

    *Or woman, of course.

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    Hitting the Chicane Wall – Recovery in the Legal Sector

    The racing line is the optimum line to take through a bend on a race track.

    If I am facing a right hand bend then I will position myself to enter it from the left hand side of the track.  I drift across to the right of the track as I am turning, with a view to clipping the right hand kerb at what is called the apex of the bend.  I then allow myself to drift back out towards the left hand kerb, accelerating rapidly as the bend straightens out.

    The result is that I have “Straightened to the bend” allowing my firm to preserve fuel, minimise tyre and brake wear and maintain momentum.

    That is all well and good with a single bend.  We emerge from the bend and resume our efforts back on the next straight stretch, business as usual.

    The problem arises when we adopt the same strategy without realising that there is not one bend, but two, the first to the right, as above, the second to the left.

    If we do not realise the situation then we are wrongly positioned as we reach the second bend.

    We are too close to the left hand kerb.  We are wrongly positioned.  It becomes impossible to straighten the bend as we did with curve #1.

    Our momentum and driving line will lead us to slam into the right hand wall, or need to take dramatic action to slam on the brakes and limp around the next bend.

    This is how I see the current challenges facing the law sector.

    The first bend was the recession.  Get into position, downsize, reduce hours and wait for straight, wait for the recovery and carry on as you were.

    But then we realise too late that there is another immediate curve – The changed market place.  There is no straight, there is no immediate reacceleration.  Instead, for many firms, there will be an awful realisation that they have not anticipated the changes in the track ahead as they hit the chicane wall or take other evasive action.

    Big thanks to Jason Plant who thankfully provides some evidence for my more graphical approach on his excellent blog, No Option For Law Firm! which you should visit, right now, right here.

    Safe driving!

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    Kindle, Moleskine and the iTablet

    A couple of funny things happened earlier this week.

    Firstly I was asked for my vote on whether our family law team at Mogers should switch to online resources for our law journals and periodicals.

    For all my enthusiasm for all things tech I realised that in this context I would much prefer the printed material.

    Why?

    I don’t have strong views on the quality of print on screen – although the Kindle and it’s like leave me completely disinterested.

    No. My decision was based on the ease of use. I still find the existing online resources, with their labyrinthine processes, forms, paranoid protections and processes to be nothing less than repulsive.

    They push me away rather than welcoming me in and offering an enjoyable, or at least comprehensible, experience.

    I was over-ruled being the only luddite who voted for print.

    The next surprise was that I found myself indulging in the bizarre cult of Moleskine. Please, nobody tell my wife, but I invested (yes, they really are that expensive) tentatively.

    My toe in the Moleskine water was a purchase of the 3 pack of exercise books.  Why?

    No doubt about it, Moleskine are doing wonderful work in creating a brand that adds value in the eyes of its customers.  They then shout loudly about the product, which is just a notebook, so that the curious, and perhaps the gullible, buy one to suck it and see.

    I have been asked to write blogs professionally for a couple of client firms and my thinking is to have a book for each so that I can jot down ideas in graphical format, such as mindmapping, that I cannot currently do on Evernote.  See my previous post.

    So, my latent ludditism resurfaces once again.  Printed text for research and the written notebook.  Whatever next…

    …oh hang on.  Just seen this leak on the iTablet … Scrap everything I just said…

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    Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media, Leisure, Uncategorized

    Great tool for lawyers on the move…

    As I continue my journey through this world of tech it is always exciting to find new products. My most recent find is Evernote.

    Evernote is like a bunch of virtual post-it notes. Got a burning idea, or just had a fleeting memory of a defence you’ve to got to file within the week?

    Evernote enables you to capture those thoughts and file them for you to revisit and follow up on at a later date.

    I suspect the breadth of potential application of Evernote’s functions could be immense. I am only just scratching the surface of it but new uses are presenting themselves already. This blog post is a good example. I am writing this on Evernote on my HTC Hero mobile while I sup coffee in a cafe. I take a picture and also save that to Evernote…

    Great blogging coffee from Urban Espresso, Keynsham, Bristol

    In a moment I will save it to my hosted account. When I have a moment, later in the day, I will cut and paste it, add a photo within WordPress and appropriate links and then post.

    The result? Spontaneous blogging just the way it is supposed to be.

    Have a look at Evernote and let me know what you think. If you are already using it, how do you use yours?

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    Filed under General Technology, Law, Lawyers and Social Media