Building the 21st-Century Law Firm

Be relevant and grow clientele by really using social media

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The easiest and most effective listening tools to use are Feedly and Twitter. They’ll enable you to frame the room where you’ll do your networking.

Feedly is a free news aggregator that compiles updates from a variety of sources. A lawyer may monitor sources such as blogs, newspapers and trade publications, as well as monitor subjects such as codes, agencies, company names and terms of art.

Twitter enables a lawyer to listen to leaders in relevant areas—bloggers, reporters, clients, prospective clients and associations. Twitter lists may be used to facilitate the grouping of content and sources.

By strategically using Feedly or Twitter or both for listening, you’ll have created a room in which to network, to build relationships with influencers—reporters, bloggers, association leaders, conference coordinators—and to establish a name they trust.

After listening, engage. Engage by sharing what you hear or read, always giving proper attribution to the source. Attribution comes from including the source’s Twitter handle in your tweet, with a simple “h/t” (hat tip), or citing them in a blog post or a share on LinkedIn or Facebook.

The source will see you, they’ll begin to follow you, and they’ll be apt to share those items you blog and share. Maybe you’ll meet up for coffee, lunch or a beer.

Others with similar interests will begin to see you—and see you hanging out with the leaders in your field.

Not only will you become influential in the eyes of others; the machines (algorithms) at Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will see you as influential, making it more likely that you and what you say and share will be heard.


Social media is about giving love to others, not getting your content to others.

Whether sharing others’ content on Twitter, citing third parties in a blog post or posting others’ pieces on LinkedIn or Facebook, you’ll make your source feel good and let the world know you’re looking to be a resource, not a shill marketing your wares.

Imagine having a Twitter list of the companies you’d love to represent and the principals of those companies. When they tweet something they’re proud of, perhaps a nonprofit effort by their employees, you retweet it and give them big kudos.

They’ll be shocked that a lawyer noticed and took the time to give them a shoutout. Your retweet may be passed around the company and get you a personal thank-you—a thank-you that prompts you to connect on LinkedIn with a company executive and invite them to lunch.

Sharing the content of others builds social media equity. When you pen a blog post or share something on Facebook, others will share it. They like you because of all you’ve done to help others.


Blogging is the core of your social media. Only with your blog can you establish yourself, via the net, as a go-to authority in your niche while strategically nurturing relationships.

Focusing on a niche you can get passionate about is key. Blogging on employment law, unless it is solely to update existing clients, is a waste. Blogging on the Family and Medical Leave Act is a different story.

Just ask Chicago’s Jeff Nowak, a Franczek Radelet partner and publisher of FMLA Insights. He has picked up multibillion-dollar clients who were fans of his blog.

Social media requires getting outside of your firm and its website. In the case of a blog, that means having your blog on a separate site apart from your website. This builds credibility and authenticity.

Engaging those you’ve read or read about is a powerful way to blog. You’re listening to the influencers via Feedly or Twitter. Now cite them, share what they wrote and offer your take.

Let them know you shared their story via a hat tip in a tweet or email. You’ll get known and be trusted. You’ll soon have them citing your blog posts.

Look to the future, not to resurrect a stagnant practice area. Where are the opportunities, the doors left open?

If there’s not a probate litigation blog in your state, maybe that’s an opportunity. Ask Miami’s Juan Antúnez, a shareholder at Stokes McMillan Antúnez and publisher of the Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog, about what he’s been able to do.

Keep posts brief and in a conversational tone. Write as you would speak at a dinner among business associates.

Never have anyone blog for you, unless you send others out to networking events for you.


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This article appeared in the August 2017 issue of the ABA Journal with the headline “Sociability Skills: Be relevant and grow clientele by really using social media"

Kevin O’Keefe, a 2009 ABA Journal Legal Rebel and a leading authority on the use of blogging and social media for professional and business development, is CEO of Seattle-based LexBlog, a managed platform for the law used by more than 15,000 lawyers worldwide.

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