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Book is a practical guide to social media

Boston – Social media is here to stay, and lawyers need to join the conversation.

That’s the message from Carolyn Elefant and Nicole Black, no strangers to social media and authors of the new book, “Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier,” released by the American Bar Association’s Law Practice Management Section.

Elefant, a sole practitioner in Washington, D.C., launched the renowned MyShingle blog in 2002 as a resource for solos and small firm lawyers, and Rochester, N.Y. criminal defense attorney Black authors the well-known Sui Generis blog.  Both are frequent speakers on the intersection of law, technology and social media.

Their book is meant to be a practical guide for lawyers seeking to integrate social media into their law practices, whether they don’t know the difference between Twitter and Facebook or they have been blogging for years. The authors stress that online interaction is no longer optional for lawyers, but rather an essential part of conducting business and engaging in the legal community.

After a brief history of social media and how it can benefit the legal industry, the authors explain different categories of social media, such as directories like LinkedIn or communities like Facebook, often using their own pages and profiles as examples.

Black and Elefant then work their way through some of the more popular sites, tying them to specific goals for lawyers. Twitter, for example, offers lawyers a tool to build relationships and network with colleagues, with the ability to discuss a variety of topics in an informal setting.

Other forms of social media permits lawyers to achieve different types of goals, and attorneys can target a specific audience or work towards a specific objective by using a blog to attract mainstream attention or increase search engine optimization with better tagging and headlines, the authors suggest.

A chapter on best practices for social media offers lawyers helpful suggestions on time management and protecting their online reputation, as well as how to engage authentically.

Black and Elefant remind readers to check visitor statistics on blogs and conversion rates from calls to clients, in order to measure the value of the time and money spent online.

The authors also include “net-iquette” tips for online interactions. When sending a request to connect on LinkedIn, for example, lawyers should include a personal note as a courtesy. Other tips: don’t link to people you don’t know and don’t ask people to connect just for the sake of increasing your connections.

Black and Elefant use several chapters to address the ethics of social media based on the type of site (rating sites, blogs, etc.) as well as intellectual property issues such as copyright violations and defamation.

The end of the book provides an invaluable resource, with several appendices loaded with practical guidance, including a step-by-step instruction sheet on how to create a Facebook profile (with tips for privacy settings) and a 10-step “countdown” to creating a blog.

The book is a useful guide for lawyers new to social media, those who need guidance on how to reach specific goals, or anyone in between.

Correy Stephenson can be reached at correy.stephenson@lawyersusaonline.com.

On the Web:

My Shingle

“Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier”

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