Murdering Brain Cells

Either the legal marketers have maxed out their scam with websites and blogs, or new ones are searching for fertile ground, not already owned by Nigerian princes, but there has been a big push of late to get Luddites to grasp the latest and greatest in social media marketing.

In the monthly webzine (yes, internet savvy folks have a cutesy name for everything) of the American Bar Association Law Practice Management Section, is this stroke of brilliance from someone named Jared Correia, a non-practicing lawyer who has dedicated his career to making sure practicing lawyers wear brightly colored hotpants.

Among the social media services, Twitter is unequivocally the best for professional development.  While LinkedIn might seem to be the more obvious choice, since it has, for quite some time, attained the put-upon status of ‘the professional’s social networking site’, Twitter features far more for the attorney seeking to develop as a professional person via the use of social networking. 

Twitter offers a far more dynamic user experience: The Twitter streams of effective users are more active.  It’s easier to communicate with other users, including in multiples, and to refer their content.

This all speaks to functionality; but, it’s also a bedrock consideration for professional development.  If you conceive of Twitter, as others have, as a gigantic networking event, you’ll be far more effective within that construct if you can easily communicate with others, especially as the guest list continues to grow. 

If you’ve read this quote, you will necessarily be stupider. But this is hardly the worst, even if it reflects what the ABA has to say about the future of law.  Consider Adrian Dayton’s offering at the National Law Journal :

There is another social media metric for law firms to take notice of. Forget about your number of Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections or Facebook “likes.” The new standard in judging your social media influence is your “Klout” score. To find out what yours is, just head on over to and enter your information from LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other major social media site and you will see your Klout score from 1-100.

Why is it important? Looking at the klout score for your firm and for your lawyers will help you appreciate that having more lawyers engage in using social media is the only way to increase your influence.

Before you scream at your computer that he didn’t say anything, think again. Adrian told you everything there is to say. The problem is that there is nothing here. It’s all nonsense, the sort of development that appeals to people who are so fundamentally clueless that they are incapable of realizing that this is all empty and meaningless.  Since you are reading this, of course, and know better, it has the unfortunate side of effect of killing your brain cells. For that, I apologize.

And it’s not just Americans whose synapses are under seige. This from  Legal Futures in Great Britain:

There has been a massive increase in people using Twitter to ask for recommendations of professional service providers in the last two years, with solicitors one of the most in demand, according to research conducted for Orange Business.

It claimed that “small businesses are missing a trick if they take their eyes off tweets”, with its research reporting a 663% increase in people using Twitter to ask for recommendations around common professional services.

Orange, unsurprisingly, said lawyers should use their smartphones to access Twitter on the move so that they did not miss out on what was happening, and also advised that they should be prepared to offer advice on the micro-blogging site. “Professionals need to showcase their expertise and accessibility over Twitter. It’s not about giving away free counsel but showing you know what you’re talking about and sharing information which might spread far and wide. Your words of wisdom will reach far more potential customers than your silence.”

Also, it said lawyers and others need to be quick in responding to tweets and ensure they can demonstrate their “real-world” credentials by making sure users can easily link from their Twitter profile to a website.

Quick, run out to the shiny gadget store and get the coolest new smartphone so you can twit constantly and not miss out.  No, not later, right this very second. There are people twitting and you’re missing them. Go. Run.

It’s out of control, which is no surprise to those who have watched as lawyers, whether young adoring fans of social media or old and susceptible to the silly pitches of a medium they neither grasp nor care to learn.  Voices are starting to be raised to save a brain cell here and there.  Take Josh King at Avvo :

Last week in sunny Naples, FL, I joined Brian Tannebaum to speak to the annual meeting of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The topic? Social media and online advertising. We talked a lot about blogging, Twitter, and scummy SEO tactics. But I want to expand on a theme that permeated our talk, and the discussions I had with many Florida lawyers afterward: that blogging and social media are worthless as tools for direct client acquisition.

Even Sam Glover, whose Lawyerist website has not been treated kindly here in the past, is trying valiantly to save a synapse:

Many lawyers seem to take it as a given that technology is changing everything about the practice of law, and fight about whether or not that is a good thing. In reality, technology isn’t changing much about how we practice law. That is, technology is changing plenty about how we do things, but not about what we actually do.

The thing is, if you can stop being distracted by shiny gadgets, the practice of law today looks a lot like it did 50 years ago. The fact that you can check your email from your car’s dashboard doesn’t mean a contract is suddenly valid without consideration.

The dust will eventually settle.  You will never have a practice based on twitter, no one, but no one, will give a damn about your Klout.  Your shiny gadgets may be enjoyable, and even helpful as tools in the performance of lawyerly functions, but no client will ever throw money at you because you have an iPhone and twit incessantly.

But the question remains whether you will have any brain cells left before lawyers come to the realization that this is all an inane effort to separate you from your money. 

Note to those of you who are bored by my repeated admonitions that social media will not bring you success and prestige in the interwebz. (See, another cute word!)  Every day, every hour, lawyers with quiet telephones look for a way to improve their revenues, and, hungry and ignorant, click on an email or link from some scamming marketer who promises them salvation. 

My efforts, though concededly boring to those who already know this (like those of you who bought blogs and, after a year or two, realize that you got maybe one decent case which barely covered the cost of your bandwidth and certainly didn’t pay for the time you put into it), are directed at the n00bs (Cute internet word alert). They’re the ones trying on the brand new hot pants and wondering if they’re the only lawyers not walking the boulevard.

As every day brings another marketing scam designed to pray on the foolish and ignorant, and as new social media channels open up to the scammers, because what client doesn’t care more about your Klout score than your competence, there is a concomitant need to prevent lawyers from falling into the dark hole of social media marketing that taints us all.  So, sorry that I sound like a broken record, but whoever maybe a lawyer who signs on today will hear an alternative voice. 

Maybe you could help by telling them as well.  You could save a brain cell today.

14 comments on “Murdering Brain Cells

  1. Marc R

    I seriously don’t know any attorneys (I’m in s. FL) who use twitter much less google page ranks and other crap. I think the legal media is making this out to be bigger than it is. Let’s say a hundred n00b lawyers from bottomfeeder law schools compete in this internet race to the bottom. Unless you read these stories online, you’ll never know.

    Nobody in the courthouse, none of the judges, hell none of the federal law clerks even, knows who these are nor do they have paying clients. Yea it sucks having their actions as “lawyers” somehow associate with us regular law practicing guys and further devolve the societal reputation of attorneys as a whole. But there have been lawyer jokes before the internet. There will always be dirtbags in any field. I just don’t see the evidence this social marketing will harm law more than any other negative stereotypes revolving around our reputations.

  2. Marc R

    Obviously I didn’t solve anything…lawyers have been writing themselves into clients’ wills, taking money from criminal defendants and doing nothing until their clients accept a plea or they wing it at trial with zero prep work, taking cases and pocketing the money while telling clients the court rejected the lawsuit, or an infinite litany of scams perpetrated by lawyers against clients.

    You’re identifying a scam against the general public but I’m not sure it exists outside the internet and that boogymonster story with the guy taking the homicide case and the judge booting him and then the lawyer suing the internet. Think about your last cattle call or waiting around the courthouse to depose some cops…how many “internet only” lawyers do you see and how many lawyers are the regular jos a bank suit wearing, nicotine-stained handed, regular dudes hammering out the daily battle against the state/feds?

  3. SHG

    You’re right. I was just kidding. You didn’t solve anything. You’ve fallen into a very common trap, that things you don’t know about don’t exist. It’s like little children who close their eyes and believe the world ceases to exist. If you don’t see a problem, that’s great, but since there are other people in the world whose experience and knowledge may differ from yours, allow for the possibility that other people see things that you don’t.

    The better question is given your lack of knowledge, what would compel you to not only comment onces, but twice. To those who are painfully familiar with the problem, it doesn’t reflect well on you, and makes you look awfully clueless.  And ironically, I wonder if this will compel you to compound it by commenting again?

  4. The Echo Advocate

    I’m a fan of your shouting down dumb ideas because we’ve all witnessed a bunch of them catch fire recently to cause huge problems. Positive re-enforcement, it appears, hasn’t exactly achieved its desired results. Some of this “social media training” isn’t just expensive, but actually worth CLE credits as well. But I have to wonder, if the target market is “fundamentally clueless,” then what’s the point of ridicule (other than generating a good laugh for guys like me, which might actually be a worthwhile end)?

    Also, I believe the preferred spelling is “teh interwebz.”

  5. SHG

    I don’t know what’s effective in getting lawyers who are fundamentally clueless about the internet to not fall for the scams. I know they don’t come running here for advice, but my hope is when they google, or ask, or question its efficacy, they will find something on “teh interwebz” (thanks for the correction) to give them another view.

    That they are allowing CLE credit for “ How to Market on the Internet!!!” is absolutely absurd, and yet not a day goes by when I don’t receive an email from one of our august bar associations about some snake oil saleman teaching a garbage CLE.

    So I’m trying. From what I can see, I’m fighting a losing battle.

  6. A Voice of Sanity

    Are there any lawyers/law offices that haven’t put their details on Google maps? That would be a silly omission – but I’m surprised at how many businesses fail to do this.

  7. Russell Lawson

    So, Scott –

    I read about your commentary on Twitter. As a legal marketing professional, I try not to make too much out of the social media utilities, but do believe they are a valid and useful way to spread one’s reputation and demonstrate expertise.

    I can agree with you that a wide array of “experts” on social media made vacuous and stupefying statements about the use and virtue of Twitter, blogs and their fellow social media travelers.

    Let’s admit it: business development in professional services like the law is simply a face-to-face game. Still, getting there can take many forms and the public relations value of social media is proven by the close attention paid to is by business media.

  8. SHG

    So, Russell. I couldn’t get past “legal marketing professional.”  Can you tell me what degree is necessary for that profession? What is the name of the licensing exam?  Who is responsible for your ethics and disciplinary enforcement?  How much is your malpractice insurance?

  9. Russell Lawson

    That’s a very lawyerly response, but the ad hominem attack doesn’t become you. Are these questions pertinent to my comments? If you are suggesting that these qualities are relevant to the use of the particular phrase I call myself by, a phrase in relatively common use in law firms, you would be misconstruing their importance. Degrees, tests, rules and enforcers do not necessarily guarantee the efficacy of a lawyer’s skills. Absence of one or more doesn’t mean I don’t have a valid point to make.

  10. SHG

    If you knew me better at all, you would know just how much my response becomes me.  And just between us, that isn’t anywhere close to the ballpark of an ad hominem, and you’ve just embarassed yourself in front of a whole bunch of lawyers.  Rule of thumb: Never use words when you don’t know the definition.

    Turning to the crux, you start out by calling yourself a professional. You’re not. So you are trying to begin a dialogue by lying about yourself to me to make yourself appear more important than you are? That’s not nice. How can I have a thoughtful dialogue with someone who starts by lying to me?

    Lawyers aren’t professionals because of the “efficacy of their skills,” but because law is a profession.  Look it up. Social media marketing isn’t a profession. Now I would be happy to consider whether your point has any validity if you start again, provided this time you don’t start by lying to me. Of course, that doesn’t mean I will agree you have a valid point to make. No guarantees of efficacy, you know.

  11. Russell Lawson

    That marketing is a profession is not a lie just because you don’t believe it. Mock me, if you like. As you remind all of us, it’s your blog. I’m sure it serves some useful purpose to claim your superiority of knowledge and professionalism, despite your misconceptions. Even though I don’t know you except through your online writing, I don’t expect us to agree.

  12. SHG

    Sadly, as a lawyer I feel constrained by the intrinsic meaning of words. I can neither give them meaning, nor take meaning away from them. I gather that as a marketer, you feel no similar constraint, and like humpty dumpty, words mean whatever you choose them to mean at any moment. It’s convenient, but makes intelligent discussion impossible. Either we’re both working with the same language, in which case we can communicate, or we’re not.

    It has nothing to do with any claim of superiority. Law was a profession long before I got here. Don’t blame me. It has to do with the definitions of words. To the extent I have a purpose here, it’s that we both conform to a shared language where words have intrinsic definitions. If not, then there can be no communication. Perhaps there is another language with which you’re more familiar? I’m trying to work with you here, but you’re very demanding.

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