Bruce MacEwen, lawyer and consultant to the legal profession, and author of Adam Smith Esq. blog – recently wrote a blogpost about why he’s not on Twitter. As MacEwen outlines, he believes Twitter has “always been a niche service and always will be.” Further, as MacEwen argues: “Twitter’s mindshare has peaked, that it’s on a path to marginalizaion. and that (if [he’s] right) all this is one of the healthiest recent developments in the online Zeitgeist.”

“The Wall Street Journal” he cites, [just] a few days ago and with perhaps unintentional acuity diagnosed Twitter’s problem very simply: “People don’t get it.””

“It’s a medium for tossing hastily formed brain exhaust over the transom into the vicinity of who knows where. No wonder celebrities keep blowing themselves up on it.” he argues.

MacEwen concludes that Twitter “coarsens public discourse” and that “The one thing we’re desperately in need of more of—in our political, socioeconomic, business, and artistic discourse—is critical thinking. If the apathetic mainstream response to Twitter reflects that realization at some unexpressed level, so much the better.”

My response to Bruce MacEwen

I don’t disagree with MacEwen that Twitter can be all the things he’s described. It can be – but the user controls the medium. Twitter has in fact, replaced the press room in large measure. And my two reasons why international lawyers should be on Twitter is the following (I’ll be as brief as possible):

1. Twitter lists. Twitter is an excellent research tool. International lawyers can identify ideal prospective clients and referral sources – and seek to engage them via the content they’ll write on their blog (this essay presumes an international lawyer should be blogging). With your Twitter lists in hand – a lawyer can begin to creatively engage with list members over time – both on — and importantly – off Twitter.

2. Breakdown barriers: Apart from the pure business development mathematics above – Twitter allows international lawyers to engage in discussion, follow discussions, learn of seminars and conferences – all germane to their practices. It breaks down barriers to entry into an international practice – whether geographic or otherwise. It opens doors to build relationships offline – and importantly too – will attract some (or many), who might just “find” you from searching for something you’re an expert in.

Use Twitter – responsibly

Heed MacEwen’s warnings of not misusing the medium, yes. But also consider viewing it as Larry Bridgesmith Founder of ERM Legal Solutions does: “Like cocktail conversation. It MAY lead to opportunity. Depends on your follow up.” – or as Eva Bruch, Barcelona-based legal business development consultant does: “Interaction is what makes Twitter so interesting.”

If you’re an international lawyer and want to break down barriers of time zones, geography, time and cost to acquire new clients – use Twitter effectively and responsibly. It’s by no means required for good business development, but it can make it a lot easier. 

Interested in improving your law firm’s social media efforts?  Contact John Grimley, Editor & Publisher of Asia Law Portal, for a discussion:

Posted by John Grimley

John Grimley edits and publishes Asia Law Portal. An independent writer & editor, he's the author of: A Comprehensive Guide to the Asia-Pacific Legal Markets (Ark Group 2014).

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