- What are some social networking sites I may not have heard of?
- Can blogging help my firm's reputation? If so, what should I be blogging about?
- What should my profiles contain?
I attend the ABA Annual Meetings, and 20 years ago heard speakers at the LPM programs and GPSolo talk about the new thing called The Internet. I created one of the first websites in New Jersey back in 1995, which was called www.njlaws.com.
Later, on the advice of expert Stephen Fairley, we created separate websites on the different main services we provide:
In 2012 my office created a mobile app for smartphones, Droids, and non-iPhones:
Free NJ Criminal and Traffic Statutes Mobile App for IPhone, Android, etc. Our free mobile app is useful for attorneys, prosecutors, judges, and police officers for quick access to New Jersey criminal and traffic statutes. To access the app, follow these instructions: for iPhone, take iPhone, touch apps, and then search “njlaws.”
On a computer, go to iTunes, and then search in iTunes store for “njlaws.”
For Androids, Blackberry, etc., go to https://play.google.com/store, search for “Vercammen,” and then click “Install.”
- This app contains a detailed list of NJ criminal and traffic statutes as well as informative articles.
- The mobile app also has directions to NJ courts.
The “More” section has links to
- Facebook Law
- Twitter law updates
- Google plus
- JD Supra articles
- Avvo articles
- Justia Lawyer articles
- YouTube legal video
- Past newsletters with caselaw updates
- Voice Notes
Facebook and Social Media
Social networking websites offer an excellent way to connect with friends and obtain business. There are many free online sites for attorneys to list their names, practice areas, and contact information. Now that I have an iPhone, I can check email and social media requests for information at the gas station or in the elevator. Visit some of the social networking sites below for ideas. The majority of new clients in our office not referred by prior clients learned about our office online. Using different free social media sites will increase the chances that your name, practice field, and phone number will be displayed in a Google search.
The descriptions below include links to my online profiles:
Facebook is the largest free social networking service and website. According to Wikipedia.org, Facebook users can create personal profiles and create groups. Users can ask another user to become a friend. I am a member of several Facebook running clubs where members post messages on activities. Users can also create events and invite friends. My law office has an annual summer happy hour at the Jersey Shore Lake Como where we invite more than 400 Facebook friends. Friends can post photos and tag names of people in the photos. Additionally, for businesses such as offices you can set up a “fan page.” Users can add links to YouTube videos and post photos.
I have never actually obtained a client through Facebook, but it’s important to keep up with the times. In 1995 few law offices had websites. Now every law office has a web presence. Every major consumer company such as Pepsi has a Facebook page. Even potential clients referred by client or attorneys will often “Google” the attorney to learn about the lawyer.
Facebook had 945 million monthly active users at the end of December 2012. Approximately 80 percent of the monthly active users are outside the United States and Canada. They had 483 million daily active users on average in December 2011. They also had more than 425 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in December 2012.
LinkedIn is a business-related social networking site. It is mainly used for professional networking. As of January 2013, LinkedIn reports more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries. Members can create business profiles. Instead of “friends,” users can invite other members to “connect.” LinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and as of February 2013 there were more than 870,000 such groups with membership varying from 1 to 377,000.
As lawyers, we are in a service industry. Our work life and often our personal life are driven by the demands of clients and the court. These demands leave us strapped to our desks or in courtrooms scrambling to meet deadlines. How do we as busy lawyers find time to really connect with our clients?
Emerging from the fog of websites, blogs, and social media now used by lawyers and clients is LinkedIn. For those unfamiliar with LinkedIn, you are missing an opportunity to connect with your clients and referring lawyers. LinkedIn is a social media website similar in concept to Facebook. However, LinkedIn has thrived because of its primary distinction from Facebook: LinkedIn is a purely professional social network. Forget the useless daily updates on trips to Starbucks and the grocery store, LinkedIn is exclusively meant for business. LinkedIn boasts that 75 of the Fortune 100 companies are clients and that LinkedIn is the new “global talent marketplace.” LinkedIn has already become the standard networking tool in corporate America and is quickly becoming an essential way to connect and communicate with clients and other lawyers. (Source: Ryan Johnson, ABA, LawPractice.News | February / March 2012).
According to Dennis Kennedy, a popular writer for the ABA, because the traditional use of LinkedIn requires an affirmative effort to visit a website (the “silo” issue) where you have to login (the “what’s my password” issue) and navigate to get the information you want (the “where was that again?” issue), the average LinkedIn user fails to make the regular visits to LinkedIn necessary to become an expert user.
The LinkedIn mobile app (for iPhone, iOS, Android, and BlackBerry platforms) makes LinkedIn more useable and provides a good (and free) way for many lawyers, especially those increasingly relying on smartphones and apps, to use LinkedIn more frequently.
As with most smartphone apps, you can download and install the LinkedIn app from the applicable app store. Take the iPhone app as an example. Once installed, you configure the app and can access your LinkedIn account through the app directly. The “what’s my password” issue is eliminated because the password is entered as part of the configuration. (See ABA LawPractice.News | February / March 2012).
I can now check my Linkedin messages on my iPhone while in an elevator for 25 seconds at the courthouse. LinkedIn’s mobile app also has a section for “People you may know,” and with one click you can invite them to become one of your connections.
Google+ aka Google Plus is Google’s attempt to rival Facebook. Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz. It was opened to the public in September 2011 and now already has a user base of 90 million.
Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets.” Many of the sites listed below will permit the user to forward for free a tweet to Twitter setting forth new webpages and page updates. There are now 300 million Twitter users.
YouTube is a way to get your videos published. Upload, tag, and share your videos worldwide! I do all of my work on a Mac and iPhone. They both have built-in cameras. You can practice and record your presentations. I also practice for my seminars and public speaking by recording portions that I post to YouTube and other video sites.
Founded in February 2005, YouTube allows billions of people to discover, watch, and share originally created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small. The Mac computers have a built-in camera and video, so attorneys can record their own short videos to post on YouTube. I practice for my seminars by recording 5-minute clips of the presentation, and then upload the clip to YouTube. You can also add a one-paragraph narrative as a description to the video.
Free Legal Sites
JD Supra is a repository of free legal information shared by the professionals who generate it. Users can create profiles, share documents, articles, forms, and pleadings.
Users can share the following:
- Legal Documents: Court filings & decisions (your own or relevant to your practice)
- Legal Articles/Newsletters: Articles, newsletters, client alerts, re-purposed blog posts
- Legal Forms: Checklists, templates, fillable forms; contracts or other transactional docs
JD Supra users can also automatically share docs with connections on LinkedIn and sync LinkedIn and JD Supra accounts
Avvo Legal Rating: The company that owns Avvo has listed all the licensed attorneys in New Jersey. It is free to create a profile. For New Jersey attorneys, an initial profile is already there. When you claim it, add what you want to it as often as you want to give prospective clients, competitors, and the media a clear picture of your résumé and expertise. The website also includes lawyer-submitted legal guides. Attorney profiles, unbiased ratings and free access draw more than 2.5 million visitors to Avvo every month.
Avvo draws an enormous pool of consumers by offering them information about attorneys and whether there has been any ethical discipline. Attorneys have the opportunity to get noticed by these prospective clients through free and paid marketing solutions.
Avvo states it gets three times the traffic of Martindale-Hubbell and averages more than 160,000 lawyer contacts per month.
Justia Lawyer Directory: Users can participate in the Justia community by creating a free account. Claim and update your Justia Legal Directory profile, ask or answer questions in Justia’s Legal Answers, or participate in Justia Legal Birds (attorneys who answer questions) and Blawgsearch communities. By registering, you can choose to also receive announcements of upcoming new free services.
Justia permits users to add to the following: publications, blogs, Twitter feeds and social network updates, and videos.
Martindale.com Connected is a free site for attorneys to post newsletters, articles, and set up a profile.
Legal Playground is a social networking website that allows members of the legal community to connect with prospective clients. It has member profiles to locate a convenient lawyer. This application helps to search for lawyers by name, organization, practice field, or location. You can view their profiles, photos, videos, and blogs to study more.
Rocket Lawyer, Inc. is an online legal forms and services company in San Francisco, California. Rocket Lawyer’s primary service allows users to create, store, share, and E-sign legal documents from a single account dashboard. RocketLawyer also connects users with attorneys for legal document review.
I stopped participation in Rocket Lawyer because they required a lawyer to provide free advice and talk to potential clients without being permitted to do conflict checks or read interview forms.
Meet the Elite allows attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, and financial planners to create a free web profile to network and promote their services.
LawLink is a social network for the legal community with more than 8,000 members nationwide. LawLink states it now receives more than 150,000 unique visitors a month.
LawLink consists of four separate but interconnected social networks:
- The Attorney Network
- The Expert Witness Network
- The Law Student Network
- The Law Professional Network
Mylegal.com states they help lawyers make smart buying decisions by offering Legal Vendor Deals from the best legal vendors around the world.
Myspace is considered by many to be the original social networking site. However, Facebook has overtaken it. Myspace had 33.1 million unique U.S. visitors.
Flickr users share photos and short videos. Yahoo purchased it. Yahoo claims that Flickr had a total of 51 million registered members
Orkut is a social networking site purchased by Google. It has more than 60 million users worldwide.
FriendFeed is a real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites, social bookmarking websites, blogs and microblogging updates, as well as any other type of RSS/Atom feed.
Plaxo is an online address book, formerly a social networking service.
Virb.com: Users receive a personal profile page where they can post blogs, photographs and videos. Additionally, users may add others as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.
Digg is a social news website. It consists of letting people vote stories up or down, called digging and burying, respectively.
MetaCafe was similar to other video-viewing websites such as YouTube or Dailymotion, but has since transformed itself into a short-form video entertainment site with several differences. The site now showcases curated, exclusive, and original premium entertainment-related video content.
Bebo: The website’s name is an acronym for Blog Early, Blog Often. Users receive a personal profile page where they can post blogs, photographs, music, videos, and questionnaires to which other users may respond. Additionally, users may add others as friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves. Bebo is very similar to other social networking sites, mainly Facebook.
Veoh: You can add short law videos.
StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users. Its features allow users to discover and rate webpages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their tastes and interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.
Delicious (formerly del.icio.us) is a social bookmarking web service for storing, sharing, and discovering web bookmarks.
Yelp for Business Owners. Yelp, Inc. is a company that operates yelp.com, a user review, and local search web site. Yelp.com claims it has more than 54 million monthly unique visitors as of late 2012. Yelp provides online local search capabilities for its visitors. A typical search includes what the user is seeking (e.g., a barber shop) and the location from which the search is to be performed, entered as a specific address, neighborhood, city/state combination, or zip code. Each business listing result contains a 5-point rating, reviews from other site visitors, and details such as the business address, hours, accessibility, and parking. Site visitors can aid in keeping the business listings up to date, with moderator approval, and business owners can directly update their own business’ listing information
Squidoo is a community website that allows users to create pages (called lenses) for subjects of interest. Squidoo had 1.5 million hand-built lenses as of October 2010.
Chamber.com is a business networking website with approximately 2,000 members.
Spoke is a business directory and social networking site mainly used for professional networking. The site collects and aggregates information from public sources, private databases, and member uploads.
YellowPages.com is an Internet website operated by AT&T Interactive.
Athlinks is a free-of-charge sports social networking website that primarily presents race results for running, swimming, cycling, mountain biking, triathlon, and adventure racing. Sports. I post my running race and triathlon results.
Hi5 is a social gaming website.
MyYearBook is a social discover website that provides the opportunity to interact and meet new people. Nonmembers cannot view profile unless they have an account themselves.
Blogs are not actually social media, but another method of free Internet presence. Attorneys can set up blogs on their types of practice. The blog author can permit comments on the blog, or only permit comments by friends and followers
Blogger is a free blog-publishing service that allows private or multiuser blogs with time-stamped entries. It was bought by Google in 2003. Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomain of blogspot.com. It is not social media, but you can permit readers to comment on your posts. The danger of using a free blogging site, such as Blogger, is that they can disable or close your account without notice.
For example, an attorney who handles primarily immigration law can add immigration cases to his or her blog on a weekly basis. Potential clients do a Google search, and since Google owns Blogger, that attorney’s immigration law post will appear higher in a search than an old immigration website.
It is simple to create a blog in your practice field. To create a blog:
- On the Internet, go to website www.blogger.com/start and create a free account.
- Click “Sign into Blogger.” Set up your user name and password.
- Click on “Create a Blog,” then fill in the blanks. Then click “New Post.” Add whatever title you want (for example: NJ Laws E-mail Newsletter, October 10, 2012 #224, Name of Article).
- Put the text in the last section.
- Click “Publish Post.”
- Click “View Blog.”
Creating a blog is easy, and on Blogger it’s free. Ken Vercammen’s office created the following blogs:
We include all the reported criminal case squibs from NJ Judiciary.
Same cases as NJ Criminal Law—Reported Cases and any other cases or new laws or issues that affect the police.
We add all reported criminal case squibs from NJ Judiciary if they deal with suppression or drug cases, and any other public domain NJ items dealing with drug offenses.
We add all reported case squibs from NJ Judiciary Supreme and Appellate Division that are not criminal (not State v ____, or State in the Interest of ___- juvenile).
To serve as a backup of our criminal website, we add our criminal articles here.
We add anything to do with elder law, probate, etc. here.
We add all the sections of the NJ Probate law NJSA 3B-1 et seq., plus any new cases, court rules, or information dealing with probate.
We add any criminal related articles that are not case squibs. For criminal-retained clients and public defender clients, we often add the statutes they are charged with to this blog, and then print the blog to give to client as copy of statute.
We add articles from business and general law links & articles and anything else dealing of interest to business owners here.
We add case squibs that deal with these topics. We also add new traffic laws.
We added all NJSA 39 traffic statutes.
We add our biweekly email newsletter that we email to more than 3,000 clients, attorneys, judges, police, and individuals interested in New Jersey Laws.
We add Probate and other cases affecting GLBT community.
You can also use Wordpress, which sets up free blogs similar to Blogger. See the following example: