I’ve been tweeting as @in_house_lawyer for a couple of months and already I’ve built up a new network of legal acquaintances through that profile; however despite an increasing take-up of all manner of legal service providers using and contributing to Twitter, I’ve found very few in-house counsel out there. So, if you are in-house counsel using Twitter or you know of in-house counsel amongst the Twitterati please point them in my direction!
Here are my 5 reasons why in-house counsel should use Twitter:
1. Twitter is a great information resource. Choose which Twitterers to follow carefully based on content which is of interest to you, and you’ll have a constant stream of helpful data and links on the subject areas you want to keep up to speed with. Twitter users who are looking to appeal to lawyers are incredibly keen to be the first to inform you of a new legal development or to offer a different view on that development. As an information resource it’s flexible, easy to access and free. All very important to the resource and time strapped in-house lawyer.
You can also follow tweets on subjects from outside of the Twitterati you follow by creating tweet columns. Using a service such as Tweetdeck, you can create tweet columns to supply you with tweets on your favourite hash-tagged subject matters.
2. The Twitter environment offers the in-house lawyer an opportunity to forge new relationships with people who might otherwise be outside of their network. Link up with law firms, law graduates, legal researchers, companies offering legal training and development, and key-players in your company’s specialist industry or service line. Follow these people, re-tweet, reply to their tweets and contribute tweets which they’re likely to find useful and you’ll soon find yourself receiving direct messages, emails and Linked-In invitations to connect from the real people behind the Twitter accounts you follow.
3. “If you’re not online, you don’t exist” said Internet Strategist Nathan Snell back in March 2009, and in 2010 that warning rings more true than ever. Twitter offers a simple gateway to improving your online presence and your personal brand which is just as key to an in-house lawyer as to any other profession out there. See my earlier post Branded on the importance of establishing yourself as a specialist in your field via social media.
4. As more and more companies and individuals explore social media, so social media presents the legal community with the need to analyse and advise upon the legal implications of it. Many corporations choose to regulate the way in which their employees use social media and many have introduced social media policies. (For those of you considering introducing your own, Social Media Governance provides an online database of social media policies and guidelines from a number of organisations for research purposes). There’s nothing like familiarising yourself with the social media tools which your company and its staff are using to understand the benefits and risks which it brings to a business and which you’ll be asked to take a legal (and of course practicable and commercial) view on.
5. Under pressure to deliver a value-add to your company? Your Twitter presence is not only an opportunity to market your personal legal brand online, but once out there you’ll be a representative of your company. Use your Twitter platform to raise awareness of legal developments affecting the industry which your company and its customers operate in.