In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a new global movement changing how we practice law. For you tech guys and gals out there, SEO means, “search engine optimization.” In today’s world, I thinkSEO should mean be “social engineering optimization.” Here’s what we’re talking about…

Social Media Blur

There’s a social media blur taking place that’s redefining how lawyers should practice law. The difference between the daily practice of law in the office and, a lawyer spending time online with social media is no longer a black and white distinction. In fact, we would argue that one, without the other, is often disservice to you and your client.
The web as we know it (we’re talking about the easy to use hyperlinked web) is less than 20 years old. The ability to use online platforms to connect with others down the street, on the other side of the country, and even the other side of the world has become incredibly simple, inexpensive and effective. With the latest advancements in social media such as live video chat, our sphere of influence has considerably expanded. At the same time, things have become much more personal.

The Winds of Change

The winds of social and digital change have brought new technology, attitudes and transparency to how lawyers do business and interact with others. Never before in history has one single technology changed how people and companies do business and how lawyers practice law. For the first time, you can now effectively market your product or service to hundreds, thousands, and even millions of people in less time it takes to order your morning latte at Starbucks. Go about it the right way and you can get others to do the same thing by sharing your message with their tribes.
Today, smart lawyers use social media to inspire, inform, educate and build new relationships. Using social media, my firm has shared a ton of free resources and helped thousands of people with their legal problems. We know other lawyers are busy doing the same thing. Are you?

Virtual Welcome Mats

We’ve turned each page of our web site and blog, and each social media platform and post into separate and distinct virtual front door welcome mats. We’ve created thousands of “access points” for potential clients to introduce themselves and say hello. As a result, we’ve really enjoyed building new relationships and improving the quality of our client services.
We’re incorporating new social media based approaches and ideas in to our efforts each week. Things change. It’s truly exciting.
Lisa and I have been trying cases for almost 3 decades and before social media came along, we had a pretty good local reputation here in Southern California. But, tapping in to the power of modern day social media, it’s been exciting to see our firm’s reputation grow. We’re now known around the world and are contacted each week by potential clients not only from the United States, but countries many time zones removed.
We’re developing new relationships with other lawyers and clients in an easy and fun way that simply wasn’t possible five years ago. It’s enjoyable and win-win for everyone involved. It keeps things fresh and exciting.

We Love Practicing Law and Helping Others

Because of this “global expansion” using the web and social media and the new relationships we’re actively growing across the globe, we truly enjoy coming into work each day and helping people with their legal needs. Even after 27 years of practice, it’s now more exciting than ever to work “on our practice” (and not in our practice) using these new online approaches and tools. How many other lawyers can honestly say this?
We think it’s important to be passionate about what you do. If you’re not enjoying the practice of law, then you should change how you’re going about it or maybe even do something else. Life’s too short.

Start Right Now

Here’s a suggestion. Try incorporating social media in to your daily activity. Take things slow at first but take a risk and trust us on this. Be open, transparent, and strive to answer questions and help others. Give it a few months. See if your passion for practicing law is reignited. We think it will be. That’s how exciting this new way of doing business and practicing law is.
Look, if you’re not already onboard with the power of the internet and social media, you better step up and make some changes. Whether you like it or not, life as you know it has forever changed. Think about it for a minute. The last time you needed to find a service or product, what did you do? Chances are, you went straight to Google or ask your social media tribe for a recommendation. It’s fast, easy and efficient. Get on board or get run over. It’s entirely up to you!
Smart lawyers are using these new social media platform tools to make things better for others. And that’s what it’s truly all about. To bring value to others and to help them in a time of need.

Get Past the ROI Issue

Old school marketing dollars and ROI concerns are being replaced by this new approach to building relationships. And that’s a good thing. It’s OK not to be able to specifically quantify how much bang for your buck your social media efforts are returning back in to your practice. Worried about not being able to quantify your ROI? Let me ask you a question. What’s the ROI with your spouse and kids?
If you’re not already doing so, we respectfully suggest that beginning in 2013, you start to use new social platforms to establish and work towards accomplishing clear relationship building goals. We encourage you to take constant and focused daily action directed, with laser precision, towards achieving a desired and specific outcome. That means listening and helping.
Lawyers who “get it” are now, for the first time, balancing family and friends with the challenges and demands of their profession. Each day they remind themselves that trust, credibility, and transparency are their keys to the successful long-term practice of law and even more important, to a successful and happy life.

Approach Social Media The Right Way

Smart lawyers use social media to develop rapport and to help others. They listen more than they talk. They genuinely make others feel meaningful and important. They know that being their unique self, and nobody else, is what helps them standout and separates them from everyone else.
When it’s all said and done, these lawyers choose to be happy and live their lives and practice law with genuine unbridled passion. After all, they know that the “pursuit of happiness” is an inalienable right and that it’s their duty to use this right to build the best law practice and life possible.
This post originally appeared here with the title: Lawyers and Social Media- Our 2013 New Year Manifesto
Mitch Jackson has been a trial lawyer for 27 years and is a 2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year (CLAY Award) and 2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year. When he’s not trying cases, Mitch uses social media to help attorneys become better trial lawyers and to show everyone (not just lawyers) how to communicate more effectively. His firm website is JacksonandWilson.com.

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