Updated: Ten Rules for Lawyers Using Social Media

1. Trust no one, not even yourself.  Virgil was on to something when he wrote, “The gates of hell are open night and day; Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:” (The Aenid.6.126-128).

2. Do not worship false gurus. It’s called ‘social media’ for a reason. If it were called ‘professional media’, we would have an established code of ethics and wouldn’t need skeptics like Brian Tannebaum, Scott Greenfield or Mark Bennett pouring cold water over the social media lawyer marketing douchebags.

3. Before you jump on the Twitter bandwagon, make sure the wheels haven’t fallen off. Read Scott Greenfield’s post [Update: or Brian Tannebaum’s post] if you have any questions. [Update: However, according to Social Media Attorney Marketing Tasseomancer, Randy Wilson: “Twitter can allow someone interested in hiring you to check out what you say and whether it is useful to them.”]

4. Aristotle once wrote, “A friend to all is a friend to none”. Remember this when planning your social media law marketing strategy.

5. Write what you know. Chances are you don’t know very much, if anything at all. Even if you’re smarter than the average bore—remember to listen, read, learn, and assimilate. First establish a reputation in the real world, then in the virtual world. 

6. Free speech is not free; it comes with a price. That price is eternal cynicism and infernal criticism.

7. An opinion is not a statement of fact. A statement of fact is not fair comment. Until you understand the difference, you’re better off not writing anything at all.

8. An expert is a person who has devoted a significantly greater amount of time and effort reflecting on a complex subject beyond that of an average person. Whether social media is subject to this rule is self-evident. If the grand total of your legal experience consists of working on one M&A deal or appearing pro se in traffic ticket court , that’s fine. Just don’t pretend you know anything about how to build and run a law practice or how to get someone more clients.

9. A blawg post is neither a legal memorandum, a law review article, nor a case comment. The Facts-Issues-Law-Analysis-Conclusion (FILAC) approach is reserved for 1L students in fourth-tier unaccredited law schools. A thought provoking or original blawg post requires the analytical skill to separate the wheat from the chaff. Consider yourself a millwright (or millwrite).

10. Take a position. If you’re writing to inspire yourself or others, then you must be willing to challenge your own biases and prejudices. Stealth marketing is like subliminal advertising, it only works on the untrained or distracted mind.

4 Responses to “Updated: Ten Rules for Lawyers Using Social Media”

  1. William Says:

    Not your usual post, but interesting. However, I would suggest applying 1 and 2 properly, and not name people as anti-guru gurus. Self proclaimed crusaders are just as bad as self proclaimed gurus. Both carry false proclamations of selflessness high up on their flag poles.

  2. The Trial Warrior Says:

    If you're having trouble distinguishing between real lawyers who strive to uphold the integrity of the legal profession from those who simply bastardize and diminish it for their own self-aggrandizement, then re-read Rule 8. As far as this post not being my usual fare, you may want to take at a look at some of my earlier posts:Star Trek, Social Media and Legal EthicsAre We Curators or Duck Hunters? A Slackoisie Manifesto

  3. William Says:

    Right because the most dangerous threat to the integrity of our profession is . . . . social media gurus. As far as you other posts, yes this is a departure from the usual discussions of choice of law theories and international jurisdictional issues that I find much more interesting.

  4. The Trial Warrior Says:

    The biggest threat to the legal profession is the commercialization of law at the expense of ethics. The second biggest threat is trivializing the role of lawyers in upholding the rule of law. There is a cyberwar underway and I choose not to be an unconscientious non-objector. As far as what passes here as interesting content is concerned, many will take issue with your views, but not me. I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blawg. Many happy returns.

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