Social Media for Professionals: Taking on Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo!

September 3, 2009

There are many things that make social media great.  You can keep in contact with friends, you can exchange info with classmates and former co-workers from around the world, and you can even be introduced–or introduce yourself–to large audiences or prominent people that were never before accessible to the likes of you and me.  Social media continues to open the lines of communication by making relevant information accessible and available in a timely manner.

As an attorney, one of the sites I frequent is JDSupra.  The site is not your typical social network.  Rather, it is a document repository for individuals and organizations within and without the legal profession:

JD Supra allows lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals to publish and distribute their work online to a wide audience.

Legal professionals publish and share court filings, briefs, alerts, articles, newsletters, and numerous other legal documents on JD Supra.  Our tagline reads: “Give content. Get noticed.”

I frequently contribute articles, briefs, and orders.  More frequently, I use the articles, briefs, and orders posted by others.  It is a great way to promote myself and my practice and, at the same time, it is a great resource for staying abreast of evolving legal issues and cutting edge legal decisions.

Yesterday, I uploaded some of the recent filings and orders in the highly-covered and highly-debated Authors Guild v. Google, Inc., class-action lawsuit.  You might know it as the Google Books or Google Library class action or even as the Google Books Settlement.  For those who haven’t heard, Amazon, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have allied themselves in opposition to Google’s attempt to get judicial sanction that would allow Google to scan and digitize millions of pages and books that are still copyrighted but whose copyright owners cannot be located.  And Amazon filed its Objection to the Proposed Settlement yesterday (September 2, 2009).  I ran across it online, glanced through it, thought it might be of interest to others, and proceeded to upload it to JDSupra.  At that point, I continued on with the rest of my busy day.

Several hours later, I was at a friend’s house playing soccer with his little girls (it is their first year of soccer–I can almost hold my own) when my Blackberry started to buzz.  Adrian Lurssen, an early Yahoo! employee and current Director of Communications at JDSupra, sent me a tweet and asked if I would be interested in writing a brief guest-blog about Amazon’s Objection and the Google Books case in general.  Standing on my friend’s back patio, I fired up my preferred mobile Twitter app (it is UberTwitter if you are wondering) and quickly replied that I was definitely interested.

Adrian and I DM’ed back and forth and tossed around a few ideas.  My loving wife (who is a “real” IP lawyer–a patent attorney, as opposed to the rest of us “soft” IP lawyers–also known as IP litigators) cut me some slack and I pounded out a piece that is now prominently displayed on JDSupra’s blog and in JDSupra’s hot documents: Amazon.com’s Objection to Proposed Settlement in “Authors Guild v. Google, Inc”.

Thanks to various social media outlets, in under 24-hours, I found a copy of Amazon’s Objection, read it, became interested in it, and then uploaded it to JDSupra (which passed it along to thousands of its followers and subscribers). The filing caught Adrian’s eye and he quickly connected with me through Twitter (and, at least, my cell phone).  We chatted back and forth. And now I have a featured piece posted on the front page of a website frequented by legal professionals.

I was given the opportunity to share some knowledge and “expertise” with an extremely large audience that would be unavailable to me but for Adrian’s and JDSupra’s help.  JDSupra has a timely and relevant piece that is likely of interest to much of its audience. The symbiotic nature of this connection is obvious.  It is a perfect illustration of what social media allows and how it can work.

Let me conclude by waxing philosophical.  Maybe the question needs to change from: “What has social media done for me today?” to: “What have I done for social media today.”  If you make valuable contributions to the medium, the medium will reward you in spades.  It may not happen immediately (Adrian and I have followed each other on Twitter for at least half a year) but opportunities will come and you can seize them, if you so choose.


Review: Social Networking for the Legal Profession

June 27, 2009

The Internet is a great resource.  It allows people with what would otherwise be unheard-voices express their opinions, thoughts, and contributions to the collective discussion that is currently taking place throughout the United States and the World at large (look no further than the controversy over the Iranian Elections to see proof of that).

One drawback is, of course, that certain people proclaim to be authoritative on subjects they may not be authoritative on (disclaimer: I claim to be authoritative on nothing).  A possible example of this is the publication of Social Networking for the Legal Profession (“Social Networking”).  The title certainly is catchy.  And, hey, show me a lawyer who isn’t looking for ways to develop business and I’ll show you a lawyer who has retired (or who has been elected or appointed as a judge).

The problem with Social Networking (the book, not the concept) is that it does not really seem to offer any novel information or approaches.  The official spiel reports (as nearly all of us already know):

Now, we are proud to announce the release what is a major new report, published in association with Ark Group, entitled Social Networking for the Legal Profession, In the report, Lee Bryant and I look at ways in which legal professionals are exploiting social networking for business, both internally for operations and communication, and externally as part of their marketing and business development efforts.

Plenty of buzzwords: exploiting social networking, increasing operations and communications, and marketing as well as business developments.  Certainly, each of these goals is worthy of any attorney.  But I’m not sure that Social Networking for the Legal Profession is any better at assisting people in these pursuits than much of the freely available information online.  A quick Google or Bing search should give you a lot of information that you might be looking for.

As with all publications such as  Social Networking, I have significant questions, especially when I am asked to pay for them.  Here are some of the claims the authors will attempt to discuss: (#) what social networking means; (#) using online social networks; (#) policy and governance issues around social networking adoption; and; (#) future social networking trends and their impact on the legal profession.  I’m fairly certain that I can find good answers to all of these questions for free among friends, colleagues, and Twitter-buddies.

Don’t get me wrong; it is great to see these discussions taking place and, more particularly, to see big firms such as Allen & Overy and Latham Watkins becoming involved.  Clients deserve more information and involvement and we should all be seeking to facilitate it.  We are in teh business, after all, of representing clients.  However, as we all know, this universe is shifting on a weekly, if not daily basis.

The resident expert for Social Networking, Penny Edwards, is described as follows: “Penny is an enterprise social computing consultant at Headshift, where she leads the user analysis, engagement, adoption and community building elements of projects with legal and professional services firms.”  Not exactly a resume that I would look for if I were trying to hire a law firm marketing manager. But hey, I’m just a young associate; what do I know.

As social media in the law develops and, as we all play a part in it, I hope that no one book or convention will control how it is implemented and used.  We have already posted the following three articles (free access I might add):

We also recently posted a detailed story about JDSupra and how that website is changing the way biglaw is down, how the legal landscape is viewed, and who has access to the information necessary to make legal decisions in their lives.  We hope you have time to check it out: Social Media Legal Spotlight: JDSupra / JDScoop.

It is through constantly developing and revising articles and websites such as these, as well as judicial opinions defining the parameters of how social media can be used in litigation and the investigation processes that will determine how social media will affectually affect all of us in law. Personally, I would not invest heavily in “books” or “treaties” on the subject matter. If it isn’t readily available online, contact me, and I will find it for you.  Trust me, it is out there.

In the meantime, check out some of these legal heavyweights on Twitter; they should be able to help:

http://twitter.com/tysonsnow
http://twitter.com/LeeRosen
http://twitter.com/constructionlaw
http://twitter.com/AdvertisingLaw
http://twitter.com/SmallFirm
http://twitter.com/justia
http://twitter.com/StephKimbro
http://twitter.com/tweetlaw

A complete review can be found over at JDScoop, but that previous list should keep you busy!  And don’t forget to add me: @tysonsnow

Now, we are proud to announce the release what is a major new report, published in association with Ark Group, entitled Social Networking for the Legal Profession,


Social Media Legal Spotlight: JDSupra / JDScoop

June 18, 2009

This is the first in what I hope will be a long-running list of posts that spotlight specific social media sites that are tailored towards assisting attorneys and lawyers market themselves, their skills, and the particular value that they bring to an attorney-client relationship.  I have chosen JDSupra (and its associated blog, JDScoop) to be the initial spotlight for several reasons.

First, JDSupra does much more than allow users to socialize.  In its own words: “JD Supra allows lawyers, law firms, and legal professionals to publish and distribute their work online to a wide audience.”  I know what you are thinking: so JDSupra is a lot like Scribd.com isn’t it?  Both sites are social repositories for various documents.  But JDSupra has the added benefit of focusing on all things legal.  You won’t find the following on Scribd:

Legal professionals publish and share court filings, briefs, alerts, articles, newsletters, and numerous other legal documents on JD Supra.  Our tagline reads: “Give content. Get noticed.” Our accompanying blog, JD Scoop, celebrates this great work and the people behind it. Read commentary on court filings and decisions, interviews with JD Supra contributors whose work shapes the legal landscape, as well postings on media coverage, marketing, legal knowledge management, and many other related subjects.

As legal junkies, we love having access to new and hot pleadings, such as the Microsoft Click-Fraud Complaint posted by yours truly.  We especially like having access to these filings without having to pay the PACER fees that often are required when accessing federal dockets.  But JDSupra does much more than collect and publish legal pleadings, articles, summaries, and treatises.

Second, JDSupra distributes your documents to targeted audiences across numerous social media and new media channels.  Post a “Hot Doc” and wait 30 seconds, and bam, @jdsupra and @jdtwitt have posted it on Twitter.  Thousands of followers, who have voluntarily signed up to follow specific legal topics get a link to your posting and then get to see your work in action (more or less).  For attorneys who are confident in their work product, this tool can be invaluable.  For those who don’t want the prying eyes to see how they handle their cases, well, you best stay away.

Third, let’s talk about JDSupra’s Law Centers:

Our new Law Centers aggregate by subject all of the documents and legal information posted daily to the site. Organized into four broad categories (Business Law, Personal Law, Government Law, and Law Practice) the centers cover topics such as:

(See full list of Law Center topics here.)

Law Centers provide a quick and easy way to discover (and actually read) new legal developments essentially on the same day that the “event” became a “development.”  The comparison is not entirely consistent, but where Twitter is “real-time search,” JDSupra is “real-time legal developments.”

Also impressive is the numerous ways that JDSupra and JDScoop have integrated social media into helpful chunks of information.  You can get the comprehensive list of Lawyers on Twitter, Legal Research, and Profiles of Your Favorite Attorneys.

The amount of information is immense and sifting through it all can be a little overwhelming.  Spend enough time on the site, however, and you will learn a lot of things that you never knew.  At the end of it all, the two one-line marketing slogans that JDSupra uses ring true:

(1) Get Noticed. Widely.
(2) Be Found in Search.

In conclusion, I invite @JDTwitt and the other JDSupra folks to add comments about why they think their service is valuable to those involved in the legal field.  Those comments will be added to the post or included in the comment section.  This is a site about social media after all.  It seems like those who receive the focus of the spotlight should be allowed to make a few social contributions.

–Tyson
http://twitter.com/tysonsnow
http://linkedin.com/in/tysonsnow
http://facebook.com/tysonsnow