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Friday 11 May 2012 by John Hyde
Just why don’t lawyers get Twitter? This is a website with more than 300 million registered users worldwide, a figure that is growing all the time.
It has extraordinary reach, allowing members to spread their own message or listen into what others are saying. It is, quite simply, indispensable in the modern world of business. Yet the legal profession is curiously unresponsive to the phenomenon.
At today’s Association of Costs Lawyers conference in Heathrow (oh the glamour!), president Matthew Harman announced there was a hashtag for the event. He might as well have announced a particularly juicy fart or that jelly and ice cream was being served for lunch, such was the response.
Most lawyers simply gave a chuckle and rushed off for their place in the buffet queue. Twitter, it seemed, was irrelevant and silly - a haven for geeks and celebs, but not for them. This is hardly confined to costs lawyers - even the biggest firms are curiously indifferent to Twitter. Clifford Chance UK has made just 188 tweets to its 2,660 followers, whilst Freshfields has offered just 65 messages.
Herbert Smith has 788 followers but has not had a single word for them. Neither has Linklaters, which doesn’t even have a company logo on its profile. Of course, there are hundreds of firms and thousands of solicitors that have cottoned onto Twitter and are regular users. They can see this is a wonderful marketing tool. Who needs expensive advertising when you can simply build up a bank of engaged clients and message them instantly en masse?
This is a way to get your message across to thousands of potential customers and to build up your brand awareness (I would venture to guess most people who have not used legal services in this country could not even name a law firm). Best of all, you can get a much better picture of the legal market. This is a chance to spy on your competitors, hear the thoughts of your clients and become aware of the latest key issues (vital in today’s rapidly-changing marketplace).
Richard Susskind (IT adviser to the Lord Chief Justice and boasting more followers than most top-10 law firms) this week said that people thought he was ‘insane’ for being so enamoured with Twitter.
‘If you use it and you don’t get any benefit, you’re not doing it right,’ he told a Law Society Management conference. ‘In three years you’ll all be using Twitter.’
Twitter is not a preserve of celebrities or lazy media on the hunt for a story. Used responsibly and with finesse, it can be the best advert for your firm you’ll ever need. And it’s free.
Laugh all you want, but law firms need Twitter. If you don’t realise that, you might not have a law firm much longer.
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