Social media – are we learning anything yet ?

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an event organised by the Institute of Barristers’ Clerks (IBC) for in-house lawyers, barristers and clerks (or practice managers, directors etc.). The aim of the event was to increase and improve all round awareness and understanding of the needs of in-house lawyers and the Bar’s capability to meet them.

The first thing I should say is that this was an excellent initiative by the IBC. The Bar as a group has been very poor at promoting itself to this highly significant and influential segment of the market, so the IBC deserves to be commended both for the initiative and for some top class organisation and execution.

But I am not going to write about the event itself. I should make absolutely clear that this is not any reflection on its quality. On the contrary. As I said, it was very well conceived and executed. There were insightful and expertly delivered presentations, from experienced, senior in-house lawyers, a barrister and an academic. There’s no doubt about it: the event itself was a great success.

However, as I listened to in-house lawyers talk about the challenges facing them – internal pressures to articulate their value, the need for external lawyers to understand their business, be commercial, not reinvent the wheel, recognise what value means from their perspective, and so on … – it struck me that anyone, like me, with an interest in the commercial legal market who puts any meaningful amount of time and effort into engaging on social media will know these things inside out. If you are reading this – and the chances are you are – it is likely you fall into this category and will have nothing to learn from my reciting these well-versed issues.

For my part (and maybe I flatter myself) I felt as though I knew more about the challenges facing in-house lawyers than the in-house lawyers presenting to me. To be clear, I am not and never have been any kind of lawyer, in-house or otherwise. It is only fair to add that while I have learnt much through digital channels I also have a huge advantage from my fortunate involvement in the LBC Wise Counsel program for in-house lawyers. But that in itself came about through social media connection, which underlines my point.

But what is my point ?  It’s this: it exasperates me is that people continue to ask me what is the actual value of social media and how do I get the time to use it. My answer is invariably another question: how do you have the time not to use it ?

I hope this serves as a good illustration.


5 thoughts on “Social media – are we learning anything yet ?

  1. Greetings Jeremy – Possibly a diffence between ages/generations should be factored in. At age 66 and a consultant solicitor, I am unenthusiastic about much social media. Possibly others of my generation both senior counsel and solicitors, are with me on this?

    • Round objects, Jerry! At the tender age of 50-something I embrace social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn for they provide sustenance for and an outlet to my professional persona. Other, more social, social media, such as Facebook and Instagram, I eschew as their audience adds little to my professional well-being and they, by their very nature, sap at my private life. I started my social media journey on LinkedIn in 2007 and it has replaced any formal CV since then. Twitter I started in 2010, at the recommendation of my good friend @chrisdaleoxford, when I was made redundant and it has proved a remarkable tool both personally (I love the fun element) and professionally (great for staying up to date in a fast moving world such as, um, law).

      “Professional” social media is not essential but it is necessary if you wish to stay afloat in any meaningful and forward-looking way. Maybe the age element you suggest should be factored in removes the weight of the “forward-looking” aspect, but even my rural osteopath last night stated she believed social media to be an essential part of promoting her not-so-fast moving practice, which is largely geared towards the elderly and infirm. Those whom you suggest might be less technically agile.

      • Interesting comment Jonathan.

        LinkedIn can be useful as indeed are some blogs.

        However Twitter I find unappealing despite or perhaps because of its popularity with some celebs. The fun element you describe is obviously important but being limited to a set number of words – not that many on Twitter I understand – seems a little too artificial for me anyway.

        So far at least, my own professional life is far more affected by practical developments, eg fees for employment tribunal applications, than by social media despite the undoubted popularity of the latter.

      • Jerry, I think it a little shallow to shun Twitter because a few celebs use it. I regularly drink wine even though I gather it’s also popular with some celebs. I wouldn’t dream of trying to persuade you that Twitter (by specific example) is for you, but I suggest you shouldn’t automatically discount it as a viable tool. I also know many in the legal profession who could immeasurably benefit from a drafting constraint of 140 characters! It really, really focuses the mind when you need to convey a serious and professional point through that medium to the other professionals who follow your words.

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