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Eric Mayer

Why Lawyers Should Use Twitter

I have a friend who has been a personal injury lawyer for decades.  He’s a solo practitioner with enough cases to keep him comfortably in business.  He was my lawyer after I was involved in a car accident and he did a wonderful job settling my case.  He has a great reputation and gets the majority of his business through word-of-mouth.  He has a website and occasionally writes a blog.  He recently asked me why he should be on Twitter if he doesn’t need it to drum up business.

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I think my friend doesn’t see any value in sitting on Twitter all day reading and responding to others’ tweets.  I think he’s right on that point, but I don’t think he sees some of the other benefits of having a Twitter account.  I’ve been pondering his question for a few weeks and I’ve come up with the top three reasons why a lawyer in his position would want to have a Twitter presence.

  1. Promote Your Blog – I love that my friend writes a blog, but if no one knows when he has something new posted, who is going to read it?  I have a lawyer friend who mostly uses his Twitter account to announce when he has posted a new blog.  I love when he writes, but he doesn’t publish on a set schedule.  I appreciate the notice when he has something new for us to read.
  2. Stay On The Radar – By using a Twitter account, a solo practitioner remind others that they exist in a non-intrusive way.  It also makes it easier for people who promote you within the Twitterverse.   For example, I recently had a friend ask me for a recommendation for a real estate lawyer in Arizona.  I didn’t know any lawyers who practice in this area, so I put the question out on Twitter.  (Note – I only put the question out on Twitter.)  I received two recommendations within 24 hours.  I appreciated the response that provided a name, a Twitter handle, and a website more than the response that just gave me a name.  It gives people a way to get to know you before they initiate a conversation with you.  If you saw a tweet where someone mentioned you, you could post a thank-you tweet and continue to build goodwill for your firm.
  3. Stay Abreast of Legal News – I get multiple legal magazines every month and I don’t have time to flip through them all.  Instead, I follow various entities on Twitter who post links to articles and blogs on the latest legal news.  It’s a more efficient way to know what’s going on in the legal world.

When it comes to social media like Facebook and Twitter, it’s important for lawyers (and any professional) to look at it as a tool, and evaluate it whether it can assist them in their business.  With Twitter, it’s about having public conversations in an online community and people can engage where they are comfortable.  In the big picture, I think it’s better to be partially involved and engage a little bit, than not to be involved at all.

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Appearance on Kade Dworkin’s Meet My Followers

My friend, Kade Dworkin, started a new podcast this month called Meet My Followers.

Kade Dworkin

Each show is a 20-minute interview with one of his followers from Twitter.  I was impressed when I saw that he’s challenging himself to release a new show every weekday morning.  So far he’s had some awesome and interesting guests – including me.

I met Kade in November 2009 when we were both presenters at Ignite Phoenix #5.  He spoke about “The Art of Misusing Stuff,” and my presentation was “Frosting the Law.”  Since then I’ve stayed connected to him and his adventures on Twitter and Facebook.  When he announced that he was starting this podcast and was soliciting guests for it, I immediately said I was in.

Kade asks all of his guests who they follow on Twitter.  I had to gush about some of my favorite people:

  • Lawyerist: @lawyerist, one of my favorite legal blogs
  • Eric Mayer: @ericlmayer, one of the best attorneys and courtroom advocates I’ve ever seen.  He’s new to Twitter, and his blogs are very thought-provoking.
  • Evo Terra: @evo_terra, my friend that I love for his intelligence, humor, and the fact that he just tells it like it is.  I’m also a fan of the occasional guest tweet from @jmoriarty.  Evo’s podcast is one of the highlights of my week.

We also talked about why I decided to go to law school and my aspiration to practice intellectual property and internet law, and to keep the crew at Improv AZ out of jail.  I’m glad that there are people like Kade who work in this area who remind me that there will be plenty of work for a neophyte lawyer in this area after I graduate.  You can listen to my episode of Meet My Followers on iTunes or on the show’s website.

Thank you, Kade for having me on your show.  I had a lot of fun and I look forward to hearing who is going to be on your show next.

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How I Ended Up In Law School

My friend, Eric Mayer, wrote a powerful blog about why he became a military criminal defense attorney.  It made me reflect on why I was inspired to go to law school.

Before law school, I worked in the mental health industry for nine years.  I started out as an intern at a residential psychiatric facility for children.  On a good day, I got paid to drink chocolate milk and play soccer.  On a bad day, I spent my shift holding patients down so that they could not harm themselves or anyone else.  All the staff was trained on these protective techniques and could perform them without risk to the patient.  These were not inherently bad kids.  Most of them had been dealt a bad hand.  When I read the patients’ files,  I saw that these kids had been through some horrific experiences – severe neglect, sexual abuse, and abuse from their biological and foster parents.  Many of them had not been nurtured or properly socialized, so they coped with life the best they could with substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, depression, and physical violence against themselves and others.  I remember one patient who was constantly verbally belittled by her family.  She had no other abuse in her history.  It was words alone that caused her to have severe enough depression that she needed residential care.  It was our job to show her that it was ok to have her own thoughts and opinions.  It was amazing to see these kids get better and be able to leave the unit with some of the tools they would need to effectively function in the world.

This experience, along with others, inspired me to become a therapist.  It was very humbling to have people come into my office, unload their problems, and hope that I could help them.  Sometimes I had clients whose problems seemed minute to me, and I had to remember that it didn’t matter how I viewed their problems, but how they viewed their problems.  Sometimes it was scary when I had clients who I feared might be suicidal.  On a handful of occasions I had to call the police and ask them to perform welfare checks on my clients to make sure they were still alive.  One time I even called the morgue to see if one of my clients was there.  Thankfully he wasn’t.

One of the challenges of being a therapist is that you have to let the clients do the work.  I could help them process their feelings and explore their options, but ultimately they had to take the actions that will improve their lives.  This process can literally take years.  It’s frustrating when you have the answer and you can’t make the person do what you want.  Trying to force things actually leads to setbacks.  I felt like I was on the sidelines of the problem-solving process.  I decided to go to law school because I wanted to keep working with interesting people and complicated problems, but I wanted to have a more active role in the process.

One thing I’ve learned in law school is that people hire an attorney in two situations: 1) when something bad has happened or 2) when they are trying to prevent something bad from happening.  Regardless of what area of law I practice, I hope that I can always remain humble and remember that my clients are putting their livelihoods, families, and sometimes their very lives in my hands and asking me for help.  Even when their problems are easy for me to handle, I hope I remember how stressed and frightened they might be feeling.  I hope I always respect the power my clients give me and their expectations that I can help them.