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LEGAL CENTS: Google+ has many plusses for lawyers

By: Jane Pribek//January 26, 2012//

LEGAL CENTS: Google+ has many plusses for lawyers

By: Jane Pribek//January 26, 2012//

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Jane Pribek

Google has thrown a party with its much-hyped social networking platform Google+ but it appears no one in Wisconsin’s legal community is showing up.

Do you know anybody who’s using it?

I didn’t think so.

But maybe attorneys just are late to the party because Google+ really does have, well, many plusses.

First off, it’s easy to use. It took me just minutes to create a page because I already had a Google profile and merely recycled some marketing text.

And the services much-touted “circles” option allows users to convey varying messages to different groups, which probably would appeal to the many lawyers who don’t like Facebook’s sharing of personal information to all friends.

Carol Hassler, webmaster and cataloger at the Wisconsin State Law Library in Madison, said the library had used Google+ since November, primarily as an outreach tool.

“We did it for the same reason we have a Facebook page,” she said. “We’re just trying to put our news in the different channels where people are already getting their news.”

One of the services biggest plusses, Hassler said, is how easily it integrates with other Google products. She also likes the “+1 button” that allows users to recommend posts and/or links. When someone +1s something the library posted on Google+, Hassler said, she knows somebody found it interesting or useful, and seeks to post more like that.

Platteville lawyer Bret Nason said the biggest plus he had seen from Google+ was better search engine optimization.

“It’s not so much that people are on Google+ and say, ‘Oh here’s a bankruptcy attorney,’ and they contact me,” he said.

“It’s the fact that I’m on Google+ that helps me show up higher in their Google searches when they’re looking for an attorney.”

Nason has been on Google+ since last summer, when it still was an invite-only platform. He was invited by fellow consumer bankruptcy attorney Jay Fleischman of New York-based Shaev & Fleischman LLP.

Fleischman, who also is a legal marketing consultant, said now was a good time for lawyers to start using Google+, as the service was growing in popularity. In October, Google announced it surpassed the 40 million users mark.

By December, technology analyst Paul Allen put that figure at more than 62 million. He predicts 2012 will be the service’s “breakout year,” with the number of users increasing to 400 million by year’s end.

The Jan. 10 release of Google’s “Search Plus Your World” will help boost the number the Google+ users, Fleischman said, with its ability to yield individualized search results by mining Google+ data.

“I think it’s important to establish a toehold on Google+,” Fleischman said, “and to learn and know as much about that platform as possible. You’ll get first-mover advantage.”

He knows that’s possible because it happened to him with Twitter. Fleischman was one of the first consumer bankruptcy attorneys to use Twitter and he’s garnered a large following as a result.

But attorneys considering trying Google+ need to be ready to commit, he said.

“You get what you put into these things,” Fleischman said. “If you go on Google+, but you never connect with anybody, and there’s no interaction on that platform between you any anybody else, then you’ll get absolutely nothing out of it.

“It’s just like going to a networking event, collecting business cards and then letting them sit idly at the bottom of your bag for the next six months. Nothing’s going to happen.”

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