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Lawyers and Social Media + Personal Branding for Law Students

Personal Branding for Law Students
Can anyone hear me?

I gave a talk today on Lawyers and Social Media to the students on the Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow School of Law. My talk emphasised the importance of personal branding for young lawyers which can and should start whilst still law students. I pointed out that lawyers had to tell the world who they were and what they were doing. No one else would necessarily blow their trumpet for them. Who else might know the importance of the case they had just won? However, rather than using a loudhailer to do so IT and in particular the Internet was now the best tool for this purpose.

I asked the students if they knew who Stuart Baggs was. He was, of course, one of the contenders on series 6 of The Apprentice who referred to himself as ‘The Brand’. He also said he was a big fish in a small pond and was told in no uncertain terms that he was not a brand nor a fish.

I suggested that the students are at the moment small fish in a large internet pond that they need to grow in.

But as Richard Susskind has said:

Most lawyers are pathologically late adopters of IT. Despite promising, early successes, until the worth of an emerging technology is proven beyond reasonable doubt it will not generally be embraced by the legal world.

It was, however, heartening to see that of the 100+ students in the lecture theatre nearly all of them were on Facebook (maybe no surprise there) but with one half to two-thirds being on Twitter and the same on LinkedIn. Slightly less (but a fair number) were on Pinterest. These statistics compare favourably to a similar poll I did to the class of 2011 when whilst almost all were on Facebook only 4 were on Twitter and 7 on LinkedIn. That was a class of 165 students.

In 2011 Google+ didn’t exist. In 2014 only one law student pioneer had signed up to it. None of them were on Ello and only one student had even heard of it. No one was broadcasting on YouTube.

One student was quick to join Twitter immediately after the lecture:-

When I was preparing my presentation I was scratching my head to think of any current law students in Scotland who were blogging. So I asked Twitter for help:-

I was pointed in the direction of a few political student bloggers. No doubt elements of law in there but on the whole Scottish referendum heavy. Some Australian student law blogs exist. A few in England (e.g. Lawyer in the Making, Raising the Bar, The London Law Map and Matthew Hopkins – The Witchfinder General) but, alas, I could not find any in Scotland. This was in stark contrast to the position in 2011 when Michelle Hynes (Glasgow University), Alistair Sloan (Stirling University) and the Anonymous Scots Law Student (Strathclyde University) were all blogging. Michelle and Alistair still do. The Scots Law Student stopped it would appear when they were no longer a student. Michelle and Alistair have both since gone onto great heights by becoming employees of Inksters 😉 In both cases their blogging and social media activities caught my eye and led to them being offered positions at my law firm.

A new law student blogger, Paul Cruikshank, did appear just before today and as a result of me tweeting about the dearth involved:-

Paul was at the lecture today and I had the pleasure of meeting him.

I also took the students through my own law firm’s online strategy including a discussion on Tweeting in Convoy, Tweet-ups, Inksters Give, Inksters Christmas Hats, Trial Inksters and the Inksterplex (which now has #inksterplex on the front door).

How many law firms have a hashtag on their front door?

The benefits of blogging on this blog, the Crofting Law Blog and elsewhere was highlighted. The result of this strategy I explained was becoming a bigger fish in the internet pond.

The talk finished with a quote from US Attorney Betsy Munnell commenting on my post on Law Firm Twitteratigate:-

Clearly, and the data in your post makes this point many times over, young lawyers need to teach themselves how to use social media for their careers. They cannot wait for their firms to catch up–not if they wish to build self-sustaining practices, not if they wish to survive this economy and the coming revolution in the delivery of legal services.

Note: This lecture formed part of the Business, Ethics, Finance and Practice Awareness course of the Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Glasgow School of Law.

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  1. I think the issues facing lawyers today in respect of embracing technological change and in particular social media can sometimes feel completely out of their depth. I do feel for them, imagine a 50 something lawyer having to rely on a total newbie in law to guide them through the world of social media and how to use it to the law firm’s advantage when the lawyer has been running the firm perfectly well for so long – it’s a big change to take on, but the eventuality is that the changes have to be taken on to keep up in the industry.

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