There are many parallels between growing your law practice and building a great company with respect to social media. The notion of delighting a small number of customers or clients versus mass marketing to thousands was a theme during our expert panel in Seattle last week on Social Media for Attorneys. Quality wins over quantity.

I moderated a spirited panel that included Adrian Dayton of ClearView Social, Allen Rodriguez of One400, Leigh McMillan of Avvo, and Jennifer Castleberry of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (DWT).

Adrian outlined the three biggest ethical stumbling blocks for lawyers with it comes to social media:

  1. Public Disclosure of a Client – don’t do it without the proper permission (may be required to be in writing).
  2. Solicitation – it’s just not allowed and the line is pretty clear. You cannot offer services publicly or by direct private message. Do not tweet or post offering to help a potential client with their legal needs!
  3. Forming a Client | Attorney relationship – no surprise that this is not allowed and there is a fear

Allen added the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) as a potential problem. I believe that the UPL fear stems from not understanding the above three issues. If you are on the right side of the three items above, UPL should not

The entire panel agreed that the majority of attorneys do a poor job on social media. From the pictures to the actual content and style, lawyers are not known for branding or online presence. Many are simply not comfortable with social media.

Some tips from the panel:

First, your brand is visual and your pictures. Leigh brought up the concept of “Dress your House”. We share the pet peeve of terrible headshots on Linkedin and Twitter. Get a professional headshot and do not use a picture with your significant other or pet half cut out!

Second, Adrian commented on a scattergun or bullhorn approach that Twitter can sometimes represent versus a more intimate or focused outreach. Better to interact in a meaningful fashion with a smaller audience.  It reminds me of Gary Vaynerchk’s book – Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. Gary’s premise is that you have to connect with meaningful content to break through the noise on social media. The right hook is when you actually make an ask or sell (again check those rules above).

Third, be authentic and relatable for your clients. Leigh mentioned Seattle trial attorney Karen Koehler who has a widely popular blog and has branded herself, as The Velvet Hammer.TM I reviewed her blog and it’s very authentic and interesting. There are links to her books and her law firm so it does have that “right hook” but it’s very well done.

Fourth, Jen commented on her time in the private sector and how the lessons transfer to social media and the law – know your audience is always important. Also mentioned was that its not about advertising but creating a brand and being true to that brand.

Allen dove a bit deeper into the technical aspects and was the first person to mention Saul Goodman, well into the panel.  When describing the idea of redirecting or retargeting, Allen coined the phrase “re-inspired”. In other words, you can set up your ads so that when people visit your site and then go onto Facebook or another site, they will see your company ad and be re-inspired to buy.

We had a great question from the crowd on how to measure the ROI on social media and the amount of time on social media. The panel talked about a couple of hours per week. Jen commented on how the lawyers that are comfortable spend more than three or four hours a week. And that brings up the point that being comfortable on a certain channel is important. Find out where you would like to hang out on social media and make quality connections. Do not try to do all channels in the few hours that you may allocate.

Dan Lear from the crowd also brought up the interesting fact that just because you interact with people on Twitter or Linkedin, it’s not the same as knowing them in real life. Therefore when you meet them, you should remember that it’s really your first meeting.

All the panelists recommend being authentic and a real person as you become a thought leader or educate potential clients without violating the three rules above. Check out the entire event here on video <insert link to our page or youtube channel>.

A huge thank you to Evolve Law founding members DWT and Avvo for supporting us. Dan Lear, of Avvo for organizing and the support from the Seattle Legal Innovation and Technology Meetup group. Also, thank you to new Evolve Law member MetaJure and Washington Wills for setting up tables. You can watch video of the event here. See you all in the spring for a round of Darwin Talks in Seattle.

In LA or Toronto – we have two upcoming events – register here for LA and here for Toronto.