Lawyers and other professional service providers are looked to as experts in their fields and clients have to trust that we are doing a good job for them. That means they must believe we are competent. In short, our reputations are our most important asset.
Social media can help an attorney build a favorable reputation with current and prospective clients. However, many attorneys seem reluctant to differentiate themselves via social media. While there are some wonderfully insightful blogs out there, many blogs run by practicing attorneys appear to serve more as news digests and simply post links to recent cases or provide summaries of practice developments. Though useful, these blogs don’t provide a distinct voice or feature one skill that is important to an attorney – critical, strategic thinking.
These practice area news blogs can be great for targeting other attorneys as a source of referrals, and if that is your strategy, more power to you. However, if you want to directly reach out to potential clients, be they entrepreneurs or in-house counsel, I think the best pitch you can make via social media is one based on your expertise.
Of course, within a firm, taking a position on legal issues can be difficult. Other attorneys may not share your opinion, or clients may need to argue a contrary position in the future. The result has often been to avoid providing personal opinions about the merits of a decision or proposed statutory change. My solution has been to take my blogging out of my firm and put it on my own website. The views here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other attorney in the firm. I am also cognizant to avoid positions that may be contrary to the position a client of the firm may need to argue. When writing on legal issues, I mostly comment on decided cases and provide my opinion of what the law should be, not an argument about what the law is.
I strongly believe that the best way to show you have expertise in an area of law is to put forward strong, cogent opinions. Blogs aren’t the place for full law review articles, but you can articulate an opinion and provide some support for it. You can also link to other sources easily to let your readers view other opinions on the issue. What this does is give your readers a sense that you have a command of the subject matter and can be relied on as a knowledgeable source of information and, potentially, counsel.
In the next post, I’ll share my thoughts on how we can use the social media to personalize our message and create relationships with the members of our networks.