It has never been easier to create and develop legal startups. In innumerable ways, technology has smoothed the path for new legal businesses, making it possible to collaborate and compete in ways that were not previously possible. One technological force has proven the secret weapon of the legal startup: Twitter. With tweets limited to 280 characters, the famously terse social media platform has burgeoned into the world’s largest virtual marketplace of ideas.
Twitter’s interactive platform makes it possible to connect with colleagues, learn new subjects, and hunt down new clients, all from the comfort of your desk (or sofa!). Those activities can be critical for any startup, from “starting” some law-adjacent product, opening a new law firm, hanging out a shingle solo, or just developing a career as a young lawyer. Technological innovations—and the connections they empower—are all the more critical for startups now, as remote working becomes the norm in a post-coronavirus world. The following are a few ways you can do so—while maintaining your sanity.
From Skepticism to Wild Enthusiasm
Twitter has been critical in developing my solo practice, an appellate boutique devoted to the US Supreme Court. I was initially skeptical when a friend urged me to join. I thought, “Who would care what I have to say about the Supreme Court when many leading figures of the Supreme Court bar are already on Twitter? How can Twitter help me develop business?”
Skepticism soon gave way to wild enthusiasm. Before long, I found my unique voice by writing about topics that interest me. Now I have developed deep relationships with the luminaries who once intimidated me—swapping cases, exchanging ideas, and arranging introductions for representations all across the country. For me, Twitter has been a life-changer. It has also been great fun!
How to Use Twitter to Build Your Practice
Find the Right Twitter Niche
Within the dizzying—and sometimes brutal—world of Twitter, unique and supportive communities of lawyers have sprung up like pockets of safety. Many of those communities are neatly taxonomized by descriptive hashtags like #AppellateTwitter, #lawtwitter, and #inhousetwitter. For new Twitter initiates, hashtags create searchable links that enable people interested in specific issues to find one another’s tweets.
Within these communities, lawyers from across the country come to discuss the day’s legal comings and goings, dissect opinions and briefs, or talk about legal life, cats, and whether hot dogs are sandwiches (yes, that happened). If you use those hashtags, follow others who do, and interact with their tweets, you can build your own Twitter community. This community can, practically overnight, give your startup a nationwide network.
Use Twitter to Facilitate Real-World Collaborations
It may seem safer to keep your Twitter friendships at a distance, but Twitter, at its best, helps to develop real-life relationships, including with potential clients or co-counsel. Sometimes that means engaging in a substantive discussion with the world’s thought leaders. Sometimes that means getting (or giving) practical advice about practicing law or other topics while respecting state ethical rules governing the provision of legal advice. And sometimes that means swapping recipes for chili with a potential client. Every day, new relationships are made, ideas fostered, and clients found—all within Twitter’s electronic walls. That can pay dividends for your growing practice.
Beware Online Engagement’s Many Pitfalls
Twitter’s distance and anonymity can strip us of our humanity—making it too easy to let slip an intemperate remark that could hurt one’s real-world reputation or even hurt another person. Professionalism matters; ethical quandaries arise. Twitter can prove an unwelcome distraction from actual work, offering a pool for potential procrastination that is infinitely deep and wide. Caution is warranted.
Overall, and especially as a startup, I’ve found the benefits far outweigh the negatives. Now that all of you are in on the secrets to Twitter success, I hope you join us online and get started! My Twitter handle is @CecereCarl. I’d love to talk with you.