September 01, 2014

Social Media and How Lawyers Are Trying, Slowly, to Understand It

Randall M. Kessler

When I was in law school, lawyers did not advertise (or that’s what I thought). It was forbidden forever, and then the rules changed. But whether bar rules, statutes, or local rules permit direct advertising or not, lawyers have always needed business. And contrary to the belief I and many others held before we started practicing, just because you proclaim yourself a law firm, or establish an office, does not mean clients will line up at your door to hire you. But again, prior to advertising being permitted, how did lawyers “get” business? The way many still do: word of mouth, although today there should perhaps be a subcategory for “word of social media.” In other words, social media is taking the place of direct, person-to-person conversations. Instead of hearing about what is happening in the news or with your friends by talking about those things at dinner, updates appear around the clock on social media. You now know instantaneously that your cousin in Iowa just had a baby girl or that the cease-fire in the Middle East just collapsed. So, too, it is with legal marketing. While word of mouth is a clever cliché, so is “word spreads,” and social media is how it spreads these days. So if you are not part of social media, the word about you is not being spread.

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