Tweet and The World Doesn’t Collapse

 

Following a recent report by Byfield Consultancy studying the top 200 law firms in the UK and their social media use Rachel Edwards Barrott from The National Family Law Practice talks about why lawyers have been slow to adapt to social media even though the rest of the world has embraced it.

Lawyers are naturally a cautious bunch when it comes to new approaches. We know as a family law practice social media is often sourced as evidence of misdemeanours, lies and wrongdoings in divorce cases, so it is perhaps understandable why there is a reluctance to jump on the bandwagon.

Having said that this fascinating in-depth report from the Byfield Consultancy found nearly half the top 200 law firms have won business as a direct result of social media engagement.

The Fear of Going Viral

Perhaps part of the explanation for the slow uptake is explained in the report which cites cases where social media has led to throwaway comments becoming newsworthy stories. Recently Russells Solicitors was left red-faced when Chris Gossage, a Partner at the firm, inadvertently revealed the true identity of J K Rowling’s pseudonym to his friend Judith Callegari. She took to Twitter to spread the news. It went viral and Rowling successfully obtained damages.

This is certainly embarrassing and costly but not very commonplace and it would be foolish to think misplaced comments were never heard before social media. In fact the vast majority of conversations on social media are not that interesting at all.

Social Media Should be Embraced

There is a great opportunity for the legal profession to share knowledge, present their expertise, engage in conversations, offer opinion, highlight issues and inform the public. For a profession that loves to talk and offer advice, the reluctance to engage in social media is surprising.

The report highlights social media successes, quoting Steve Kuncewicz, Head of IP and Media at Bermans, a commercial law firm based in Liverpool and Manchester, “Social media exposes you to opportunities you would never get near and puts you in touch with people you would never get near.”

Lawyers need to engage with social media and incorporate usage policies into staff manuals. If they are outsourcing social media, boundaries need to be agreed with pre-approved messages if necessary.

Like any communication there needs to be a strategy behind it and it needs to be integrated into online and offline PR and marketing. As an industry we may be a little late to social media, but I believe we have a lot to offer.


Rachel Edwards Barrott is a Principal Solicitor at The National Family Practice specialising in Divorce, Wills and children matters.


Rachel Edwards Barrott, The National Family Practice

 

 

 

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