Social Media


Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

Downtown Phoenix Sheraton

On Thursday, another in a popular series of networking events for lawyers will be staged in downtown Phoenix. You should consider stopping by.

Hosted by the State Bar of Arizona (Mentor Committee and Young Lawyers Division), it will be held on Thursday, September 18, at the downtown Phoenix Sheraton Hotel, in its District American Kitchen and Wine Bar.

This is the fourth annual such kick-off event, and the previous ones have been crowded and enjoyable affairs.

Here is an image with more particulars:

State Bar Networking event 09-18-14And here is a map:

ABA blog question and data (Chart via Bob Ambrogi's Law Sites Blog.)

(Chart via Bob Ambrogi’s Law Sites Blog.)

Recent data from the American Bar Association suggests that fewer lawyers are blogging than have in the past. What this means … well, it could mean a few things.

Many folks—myself included—have advocated for the power of a blog to alter an attorney’s work life. Will a blog transform your law practice and rake in the clients? Probably not. Just like any tool at your disposal, this one can serve your particular needs—but you still have to identify what those needs are.

The hard work of determining your blog’s goals may have resulted in disappointment in the results—which were never clearly aimed for in the first place.

A very good roundup of the ABA’s new data is written by Bob Ambrogi. Among his mentions:

“Blogging was down among lawyers in all firm sizes except those in firms of 10-49 attorneys, where the percentage of lawyers who blog rose a point from 5% in 2013 to 6% this year. Among solos, the percentage who blog dropped from 12% to 10%; among those in firms of 2-9 attorneys, the percentage dropped from 11% to 8%; and in firms of 100 or more attorneys, the percentage went from 10% in 2013 to 9% this year.”

One interesting element of the ABA’s queries relates to its asking lawyers whether they “personally” maintain a blog (see chart above). Well, what else would they do?

As I have mentioned before, a debate exists over whether a lawyer’s blog is just another marketing tool, which no one (let alone potential clients) expects is penned by the lawyer herself.

Others (like me, for instance) see the blog as an opportunity to share your own thinking. It is not just like a lawyer bio, which we know a PR pro wrote. Neither is it like a brief, which everyone understands was drafted with the assistance of partners, associates and clerks.

As long as lawyers believe they can “farm out” the drafting of their own insights and legal perambulations, I’d wager that the decline in blogging may not be a bad thing.

What do you think?

 

At least one bar association offers a shield for a logo.

At least one bar association offers a shield for a logo.

This week, my family and I have the great good pleasure of being in Boston, Mass., as we deliver a child to college life.

Amidst the inevitable lobster dinner and a stroll on the Freedom Trail, I decided to look into a legal aspect to Beantown.

That’s a tradition I started years ago, always intrigued by the way other legal communities and associations do things. And that’s what takes me to the website of the Boston Bar Association.

The “look” of the BBA has always been one of my favorites, for a few reasons, I guess. (And no, not just because I will visit with friend and now-retired BBA communications exec Bonnie Sashin while I’m there!)

First, it’s one of the rare bar sites to go for a dark look. Perhaps seeking to avoid the shady reputation that attorneys may have, most legal organizations connote sweetness and bright-white light. The BBA site is steadfastly dark and yet still inviting—not unlike that stereotypical lawyer’s study we never see anymore.

Second, it has a shield. I know, all bars have a logo. But the Boston bar dispenses with a round image and opts for something that reminds us of, I don’t know, the Battle of Hastings. Very regal and heraldic.

Boston-Bar-Association logo

Content is king, though, and that’s where I admit they have it. I’ll point just to one element I found worthy of emulation: their stable of in-house blogs.

Yes, here in Arizona, we have a Blog Network that features the work of scores of lawyers. But the only blog I know of emanating from within the Bar’s walls itself is mine—this one.

Beautiful façade of the Boston Bar Association: Pass the chowder.

Beautiful façade of the Boston Bar Association: Pass the chowder.

Emerging from the Revolutionary-era brick building of the BBA, though, are a veritable army of well-done blogs. You can see the entire list here.

I’ll call you attention to one in particular today. The “Issue Spot” blog (their public policy blog) asks and examines a compelling question: Are prosecutors and public defenders paid enough?

As I adjust my lobster bib, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for other praiseworthy Boston legal connections. Can you recommend one? Write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

Our July/August 2014 cover story (and now a video): Changes to the complaint process at the Ariz. Registrar of Contractors

Our July/August 2014 cover story (and now a video): Changes to the complaint process at the Ariz. Registrar of Contractors

Get ready to snippet. (snippet good)

No, this is not a Nip/Tuck episode (or a Devo song), but an opportunity to view an educational video (and maybe get a little CLE).

As I mentioned last month, Arizona Attorney Magazine is participating in a new venture with the State Bar of Arizona CLE folks. “CLE Snippets” are brief videos that let you hear from an author of an article in the coming month’s magazine.

In July, I had the chance to speak with Matt Meaker (right) about his terrific cover story. (This is just a screen-shot. Want to watch? Click the link below.)

In July, I had the chance to speak with Matt Meaker (right) about his terrific cover story. (This is just a screen-shot. Want to watch? Click the link below.)

When I wrote about this before, I promised (threatened) to provide a link to the teaser. So here it is. If you like it, please feel free to share it around. If you don’t, well, let’s pretend this never happened.

cle snippets teaser logo. This teaser signifies a new and innovative way to combine magazine content with online learning.Thank you again to Matt Meaker of Sacks Tierney for his contribution on changes at the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

Yesterday, an author and I taped another snippet, which is on compliance (or not) with the Affordable Care Act. But more on that later.

Blog evangelism. Check. Professional engagement. Check. Surprising questions. Check, natch.

Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity logoYesterday, I had the privilege to present on the topic of lawyers and blogging to a national law society. As expected, I learned as much as I imparted.

The Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity held their annual conference in Scottsdale, and it was a pleasure to meet with many of its members as I presented on how to manage the multi-channel chaos that faces us (and use a blog to build your practice and secure your image).

You can see the list of rotating workshops here. I’m sure you’ll agree, there was some pretty serious content on offer—plus blogging, by me.

As is my custom, I took a photo of my two workshop audiences as they began to drift into the room.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My first audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Much experience in practice, questions about functionality.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

My second audience at the Phi Alpha Delta conference: Younger attorneys and law students: Hard questions about blogging.

Each group was attentive, slept only a little, and had engaging questions at the end.

As occurs at the best conferences, some of their questions took me by surprise. But the surprises are where we presenters learn.

One young attendee asked about the overall professional wisdom of blogging. She related a story about a hiring lawyer who reviewed submitted resumes. When he spotted an applicant who touted their blog, he threw the c.v. in the trash. His reasoning: He didn’t want to hire someone who spent their time blogging.

Another young questioner said that she most often got advice to eliminate as much of her electronic contributions as possible, rather than add to them with a blog. She feared that every online offering, including blog posts, could eventually be sifted and analyzed and held against her by employers and professional colleagues.

Meanwhile, the questions I received from older audience members were more expected ones and had to do with functionality: Do I recommend WordPress over Blogger? How often do I post? Where do I locate public-domain images?

The risk-averseness-ness among younger voices took me by surprise. But these folks face a shifting world, one in which the media portray the online world generally and social media (even blogging) in particular as dotted with pitfalls.

So I responded (as I recall) that our best professional judgment will keep most of us from serious error online, just as it always has in person. A sober—even if occasionally cheeky—assessment of a legal topic is unlikely to cause anyone long-term harm. In fact, people (lawyers and non-lawyers) are more likely to be impressed by what makes your voice unique than they are by how well you recede into the mass of your navy-suited colleagues.

And, I pointed out, a post that assesses a recent Supreme Court case, for instance, is unlikely to generate the kind of professional shame that may accompany a naked drunk tweet. Professional tip: Avoid those.

I added that if your blog is well done, potential employers will spot the bottom-line value as quickly as they spot the book of business you may bring. Each is a professional asset that may be touted and capitalized on.

Finally, I added that if electronically stored evidence has taught us anything, it is that (1) yes, all that data (including your drunk tweet) will “stay out there forever,” but (2) it is amazingly expensive to go back years and years and years to locate a single tweet or a single Facebook post or a single screen-shotted Snapchat. An employer may not care to do that with an associate attorney applicant. I believe the media stories are largely a bunch of scare-tactic B.S. Then again, your mileage may vary.

Aside from the occasional hiring partner who doesn’t have a clue how to read resumes and assess value.

But those audience questions linger in my mind. They lead me to re-assess the part of my presentations that explain the value prospect in blogging. For clearly, the challenges and media scare tactics faced by younger attorneys and law students require a new and different response.

Thank you again to Phi Alpha Delta and its Executive Director Andrew Sagan for the invite. I had a blast—and learned a lot.

This past week, two lawyers contacted me, asking how to be included in the Arizona Attorney Blog Network.

Fortunately, they contacted the right guy. After a few questions and a quick view of what kind of content they were posting, they were listed on our site.

But then I wondered, as I often do: What do those lawyers and law firms get out of the blogging experience? What are their goals for using the medium? And do they feel they’ve been successful?

(I know; I could simply ask them those questions. Well, they really just wanted us to post their content without a lot of jibber-jabber. But maybe next time.)

I admire those lawyers who opt to blog. They not only carve time out of busy practices; they also weather the critique, overt and covert, of others, who insist that blogging is either a time-sink or an ethical minefield—or both.

If you’ve ever wondered about the same issues, and if you think the answer is to abandon blogging, take a look at an interesting post from the U.K. Titled “Are Blogs Any Use to Law Firms?” it examines some of the elements that may make a blog not worth a lawyer’s time.

But if you’re nodding in agreement, you should pause your head-bob to read Joe Reevy’s complete post carefully. No; he’s really not saying that blogging is a waste of time—quite the opposite. Instead, he makes concrete suggestions that may yield more positive results for your legal blog.

If you consider and implement Reevy’s three strategies for success, you will likely see a spike in engagement with your audience. And that—not just increased billings—is what it’s really all about.

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Self-portrait: Gaining management Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Every market has a vacuum that agile providers seek to fill. So if there has been a giant sucking sound in the presentation industry, eagerly filled by upstarts and platforms like Keynote, Prezi and Emaze (among others), that sucking must be attributed to one lethargic giant: PowerPoint.

I wrote yesterday about what comprises a great presentation, and I said I would offer some additional thoughts about PowerPoint.

My rule of thumb regarding PowerPoints is illustrated by the opening image of this post, and it falls along these lines: If your PowerPoint is entirely understandable to an uninformed audience simply by looking at your slides, and without any additional explanation, you’re probably doing it wrong. Just. Stop.

If, however, viewers were to gaze at your slides alone, without your explanatory presence, and as a result they experience some psychic discord and confusion, and if they begin to mutter “wtf” and scratch their collective head, you may (MAY!) be on the right track.

So, again, that opening image of the bottom of my shoes. A wtf moment.

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President's columns? (wtf?)

Hmmm? WHAT is he saying about President’s columns? (wtf?)

Why would that be? How can I claim that ready comprehension and ease of reading are markers for a sucky presentation?

Why? Because:

  • Because you are not charged with creating a shopping list. You are charged with informing and inspiring.
  • Because a presentation is not about reading. (It so pains me to point this out in 2014.)
  • Because you (the presenter) are supposed to bring something to the whole presentation deal-io.
  • Because if I can view your slide deck and master the subject easily, you probably have packed it with too many words (a premier suckiness marker).

But … if your presence enriches and illuminates your points, that tells me you have value, and it tells me that you are not simply using your PP as cue cards to be read to snoring people.

My title mentions “tone.” Know your audience, which may even include sober-minded (and perhaps sober) lawyers. But know that even serious folk are swayed (just like real people) by brevity, wit and humor. Your takeaways may be recalled better if they are encapsulated in an image rather than in 7,000 words.

Well, I complained about too many words and then proceeded to give you a 420-word blog post. But I’ll end with a few slides I have offered before on the topic of providing stellar content and even better social media engagement. In each instance, I made the point as the presenter; the image merely got the assist.

Don't work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Don’t work harder; work Corgi-er. Or something. Attendees had to listen to me (not my PowerPoint) to get my point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

Atticus Finch is prized by lawyers. But my use of him in a PowerPoint was to illustrate a non-Mockingbird point.

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