How Attorneys Practice in the Age of Instagram, Facebook and the Cloud
The practice of law like most things in life is ever evolving. What we have to deal with these days is totally different from previous generations of attorneys. It is not anything we can necessarily control. It is something we need to be cognizant of and adapt to. Society is relying less on printed media (newspapers and magazines), AM/FM radio, cable TV, and landlines but instead favoring cell phones, IPads, Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix. The kids of today will be your clients and your fellow attorneys in the future. Most kids these days do not turn on the TV or the radio or even make a phone call in the traditional sense. Instead they get their news and information online, they research online, and they communicate with each other via text messaging and platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat. What worked years ago is no longer enough. The practice of law will adapt as modern society changes. Welcome the changes or be left behind.
Let’s look at a few areas of change in the modern law office.
How attorneys communicate and market their practice has changed. Years ago, an attorney could rely on fancy letterhead, a nice business card and maybe do some newspaper/yellow page advertising. Fast forward to 2019. Preparing letters on letterhead and putting a stamp on the fancy envelope are just about long gone. These days everyone wants a response now. We send out email letters with a PDF attachment. We are less likely to call our clients or opposing counsel, but are more likely to just send a text or email. To attract new clients, attorneys are taking out ads on social media instead of taking out ads in the local newspaper. Attorneys are checking Google Analytics and the SEO (search engine optimization) results of their websites.
How clients find, contact, and select attorneys has changed. Clients still find attorneys through the classic way of asking for a referral, but once they have a name everything else that happens has changed. When thinking of hiring an attorney, prospective clients are not only reviewing the attorney’s website but are turning to a variety of information sources: Yelp, to see if the attorney has any positive reviews, Facebook, to see if the attorney has a firm page, LinkedIn, to see what the attorney profile looks like, and YouTube, to see what videos the attorney posted. In addition to getting familiar with the attorney before even stepping into his or her office, the client has likely also done some Internet searches on the area of law at issue. Will the attorney have a different opinion than what was posted on AVVO, Nolo, or Findlaw? How do the blogs and articles on the attorney’s website compare to those of his or her competitors?
How attorneys express themselves has changed. Some of us still send out newsletters, email updates, old-fashioned letter updates, or write articles for a local publication. The trend, though, is going to platforms that are mobile and IPad friendly. Let’s say you want to provide an update on employment law. The modern attorney is more apt these days to make a YouTube video and link it to his or her website, Facebook and LinkedIn. The attorney may then proceed to make a podcast and write a blog on the firm website.
In this issue of the Contra Costa Lawyer we address a variety of issues facing the modern attorney and law firm. Mika Domingo discusses how the rise of social media has affected the practice of law. She breaks down the essence of forming your online presence and how to keep it under control.
Christopher Whang highlights how social media has impacted the legal system, specifically the admission of social media as evidence. He explores the considerations and limitations of trying to get social media in as evidence.
Tom D’Amato gives advice on how to handle and respond to a negative online review. We can only post a public response if we are not violating the Rules of Professional Conduct and the Business and Professions Code.
Joshua Bevitz gives us five ways to protect our law firms from cyberattacks. Attorneys can be breaching their ethical duties and subject themselves to civil liability if they do not proactively protect themselves and their clients’ confidential data from cyberattacks.
On the law practice management side, Diane Camacho gives practical advice on what types of legal software are best for today’s law firms. She explores what we really need, how much we should spend, how to find the perfect software, plus as a bonus, she provides a list of her favorite mobile apps.
Matthew Cody delves into the ethical issues of cloud computing. Attorneys must understand the potential applications, limitations, and risks of using the cloud when representing clients. Take advantage of the opportunity for some ethics MCLE credit by completing the self-study quiz on cloud computing issues.
Finally, read about how CCCBA members at Wendel Rosen have achieved the firm’s green business certification and social responsibility objectives, with technology playing an essential role.
Thank you to the authors for their thoughtful contributions to this issue. Whether it’s a new app, marketing opportunities, or ethical considerations, you will learn something new and essential for your practice.