#Lex2011Tweetup: When Virtual became IRL (In Real Life)

Brian Inkster, Catrin Griffiths and Linda Cheung

Brian Inkster (@BrianInkster), Catrin Griffiths (@lawyercatrin) and Linda Cheung (@LingaCheungUK)

My wife (who has been known to refer to herself, at times, as a Twidow) often says that the people I am tweeting with are “not real”. I, of course, know that they (or at least the majority of them!) are. Confirmation of this, if required, came on Wednesday evening at the Lex 2011 Tweetup (#Lex2011Tweetup) when virtual became in real life (often abbreviated on Twitter to ‘IRL’).

I had already met many of the Twegals (legals who tweet) that attended. I had organised or been at much smaller Tweetups (with no more than 6 Twegals present) or one to one meetings with a number of them. The Lex 2011 Tweetup surpassed all expectations though with 77 Twegals giving a RSVP on Twtvite.

This particular Tweetup started life as a desire for me and Linda Cheung (@LindaCheungUK) to meet at the end of Day 1 of Lex 2011 (at which I gave a talk on Inksters’ experience of using Twitter). For how it grew to what it became see Linda’s blog post: Twitter Clinic: A hashtag case study.

Linda has also documented the evening very well (including pictures) on the Connectegrity Blog: Lex2011Tweetup: All the leading tweeting lawyers in a bar. How could it not be fun?

Likewise, you can get another very good account of the evening from the perspective of a ‘Tweetup virgin’, Jean-Yves Gilg (@jeanyvesgilg), who blogs: Tweet forth and multiply.

[Update – 23 March 2011: For two more blog posts on the event checkout Gavin Ward’s (@GavWard) post #Lex2011TweetUp: Legal Networking at its Best and Jon Harman’s (@colmmu) post: Networking Tourettes]

Meeting in real life

For me it was great to meet again (although in some cases all too briefly) the Twegals I had met before, such as @Azrights, @ClareRodway, @clarinette02 (although I had hoped to meet for the first time @clarinette01 and @clarinette03 ;-)), @ElliottBurton, @GavWard, @HeatherTowns, @JohnAFlood, @ljanstis, @London_Law_Firm and @michaelscutt.

I had spoken on the phone with @chrisdaleoxford about e-Disclosure and it was good to now meet him (I recognised him by the hat from his Avatar which he wore to the Tweetup).

Then there were the Twegals that I had known through Twitter from my very early days of Tweeting and was, at last, meeting for the first time. This would include @colmmu, @filemot, @IkenCEO, @jonathanlea, @MotoringLawyer and @RupertWhite.

A special mention, in this category, must go to Tom Valenti (@ValentiLaw) who as a result of tweets with me about the event changed his flight plans and arrived in London from Chicago a little earlier than planned especially for the Tweetup. Tom was a kind sponsor of Inksters’ Habitat for Humanity Global Village Challenge to Argentina. It was great to eventually meet him at an event like this (where he knew many other UK Twegals). He also arrived in London in time to hear my talk at Lex2011 and we were able to spend some time during Conference breaks having a good chat.

Tom Valenti and Brian Inkster

Tom Valenti (@ValentiLaw) & Brian Inkster (@BrianInkster) at Lex 2011

[Update -21 March 2011: Tom Valenti has posted about the Tweetup on his Just Appease Me blog: #Lex2011Tweetup – A twegal experience in London – Thank-you]

I also had the pleasure of meeting other Twegals that I had been following or tweeting with for some time or indeed, in some cases, relatively recently. This would include @AlexandraHa @AnyaPalmer @aligeary, @andrewneligan, @AshleyConnick, @benwheway, @conscioussol, @DavidAllenGreen, @dylanwhite, @jeanyvesgilg, @kevinpoulter @lawyercatrin, @legalbrat, @legalfutures, @markbower, @TheNakedLawyer and @petergroves.

There were some Twegals that I encounterd for the first time IRL but was not yet following on Twitter. I am now following @barneyc, @markowen1 @stephengodsell and @taffydavies.

Some Twegals did not make it to the Tweetup but were at Lex 2011 so I managed to meet them for the first time earlier in the day: @ChristianUncut, @JoannaMG22 and @SteveKuncewicz.

@leahdarby who had organised Lex 2011 came along to the tweetup with some colleagues from the Ark Group.

Whilst I tried to say hello to as many Twegals as I could there were invariably ones that I didn’t manage to meet. I believe that @ailsa_dixon, @BrettTechLawyer, @grabbeh, @LegalBizzle, @PropTwit, @RedStarKim and @TheLawyerKaty may have been there but I don’t think I met them IRL. There will be a next time (more on that later). In the case of Brett Tech Lawyer and Legal Bizzle it may remain a mystery as to whether or not they were there and if so under what guise.

Apologies to any Twegals who I did meet IRL but have not mentioned. I can recall at least two whose Twitter names I am not sure of. Likewise to any Twegals who were there but I did not meet and have not mentioned. Drop me a DM and I will edit the post to include you.

Then there was of course @LindaCheungUK. Whilst we were co-hosts we only said a brief hello at the start of the event and then did not manage to chat at all during it! Rather ironic given that the Tweetup arose from a desire for us to meet IRL. We will make amends for this at the next Tweetup (more on that later) when we will not have hosting duties to perform.


The evening took Twitter engagement to a new level. We all know (or should know) that the key to Twitter success is engagement. Now that engagement became an even stronger kind as discussions ensued that were not limited by 140 characters at a time.

It was not unlike what Twitter is though. It is feasible that everyone in the room might be on Twitter at the same time one evening and there would be discussions going on between groups of them which others would join in with. People would leave and others would arrive.

However, there is something rather nice about this real life engagement that Twitter itself simply cannot capture. Having said that if it was not for Twitter the Tweetup would not have happened and you could not have a Tweetup every night but you can logon to Twitter every night if you so desire.

Law Firm Twitterati

The Lawyer Magazine (represented at the Tweetup by @lawyercatrin and @TheLawyerKaty) will have noted the lack of ‘Big Law’ at the Tweetup. No Allen & Overy or Norton Rose. Again this demonstrates, as brought out in Law Firm Twitteratigate – The Whole Story, that broadcasting rather than engagement is unlikely to lead to much on Twitter. Without engaging on Twitter you are unlikely to find yourself at a live networking event where the ‘real’ law firm Twitterati can be found.

Chris Sherliker, Heather Townsend and Elizabeth Miles

Chris Sherliker (@London_Law_Firm), Heather Townsend (@HeatherTowns) and Elizabeth Miles (@IkenCEO)

What did the Twegals make of the Tweetup

From the many tweets after the event it is clear that for most it was an enjoyable event and one that they would like to see repeated. As part of the Twtvite process a Twtpoll is carried out after the event. A couple of pertinent questions to take into account when organising another Tweetup are:-

How would you rate the venue?

A score of 5.79 out of 10 was given to the venue. So we could do better on this front. The venue, for this particular event, was however chosen for its closeness to the Lex 2011 venue and before we knew that such a huge number of Twegals would be attending.

How was your overall experience? Any comments / suggestions?

“I can’t cope with that level of background noise! Otherwise, a hugely enjoyable and worthwhile evening. Thanks.”

“I thought this was one of the best tweet ups ever. Brian and Linda did a great job of gathering legal folks who had a great opportunity to both socialize and network.”

“I hope the next one is on a date I can attend. Also that it’s not too noisy.”

“Great to meet people in the flesh and catch-up.”

“I can safely say I had an enjoyable time!”

“Slightly noisy. We should have anticipated so many people coming and have had some space cordoned off.”

“Very enjoyable evening and I met some great people. The venue was a bit small but that was because it was only intended to be a small gathering in the first place and then just grew.”

“I have complained about this but in essence, despite being told I could attend the event, at the last minute I was denied access.”

“The venue was rather loud and I noticed my throat being sore after! Despite that I had a great time. It was well attended by a wide range of people of interest. The location was central which worked for us. Perhaps a list….I wasn’t sure how much of the bar we were populating.”

“Brilliant event. Thanks.”

“Had a really great evening. Thanks Linda & Brian for organising. Would be great to do again sometime.”

“More space needed – book next time. But overall, job well done.”

“I turned up at 6.30 and could not find anyone there who was there for the event. So, after a bit, I left.”

“It was a wonderful event and great to put faces to avatars. It was difficult to chat in a busy bar, but it doesn’t matter. For an informal spontaneous event like this it’s the only practical thing to do. Thanks to Brian and Linda for organising it.”

So noise and venue size seem to be the main issues. It was a shame that a couple of Twegals did not find the Tweetup (not sure how one was “denied access”) and this could be resolved in the future by having a dedicated and signposted area for it.

Ali Geary and Jon Harman

Ali Geary (@aligeary) & Jon Harman (@colmmu)

The next Twegal Tweetup

Linda and I have passed the baton to Shireen Smith (@Azrights / @ShireenSmith) and Steve Williams (@MotoringLawyer) to organise the next Twegal Tweetup (#TwegalTweetup). We (Linda and I) may return to host the #Lex2012Tweetup.

Update – 23 March 2011: Following some debate on Twitter about the need for a Twegal Tweetup up North (but still South of Hadrian’s Wall – we have had several in Glasgow already) Steve Williams has started a poll:-

Some debate has already taken place on Twitter concerning the format of the next Tweetup:-

  • Should we have a dedicated room to segregate the Tweetup from other people who are out for a drink?
  • Should we have name badges with real name and/or Twitter name?
  • Should there be food? Conscious Solutions (@conscioussol) very kindly provided sharing plates on the night from their marketing budget which was gratefully received. I noticed several tweets at the end of the night mentioning going to find food and in one case specifically a Kebab!
  • Should we seek sponsorship for drinks/food or does this go against the grain of what Twitter is about? Having said that you do now have sponsored tweets so why not a sponsored Tweetup?
  • If there is no sponsorship should there be pre-payment and/or payment on the night to cover drink/food?
  • How often should such a large Tweetup take place? Quarterly or Half Yearly?
  • Do we avoid the summer months and have the next one in the Autumn?
  • What day of the week is best? Will Twegals network on a Friday or is mid week best?
  • Do we have to be careful that too much organisation may remove the  “flash mob lawyers” element as one Twegal has called it? But, there again, do we want to be flash mob lawyers?

Do provide your comments below in answer to these questions and do raise any other points you may have to assist Shireen and Steve make the next big Twegal Tweetup even better than the first one.

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