Legal Technology

Think of Twitter as 'Megatexting,' But Proceed With Caution

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Whether you’ve registered for a free Twitter account, are actively engaged in the microblogging community or simply at a browsing stage, Oklahoma legal technology guru Jim Calloway advises lawyers of all makes to brush up on the fast-growing social network.

“There’s no doubt that Twitter is a phenomena, with millions of users visiting the site at a rate of 55 million times per month. Last month, a Nielson blog estimated its growth at an annual rate of 1382 percent from 475,000 users in February 2008 to over 7 million in February 2009,” Calloway writes in a column for the Oklahoma Bar Association.

And for those who still need convincing that Twitter is more than a passing fad, Calloway offers this: “Most lawyers need to be aware of social media tools like Twitter because it likely will not be long before it impacts your practice, whether it is a business client who wants to discuss a policy on employees using social media at work or a family law client who believes that there is valuable evidence lurking in Twitter posts.”

In describing Twitter, Calloway (@jimcalloway) writes that he prefers to think of the Web service as “megatexting,” because the 140-character-or-less answer to “What are you doing now?” is often answered on the go, from a mobile device, rather than when someone is sitting at a desktop.

And while Calloway offers several arguments for how Twitter can be fun and useful, he cautions lawyers to tweet with care.

Some cautionary advice from Calloway:

• Be careful about overuse of Twitter, lest followers start to wonder whether you have nothing better to do.

• If you’re using Twitter for practice development, watch how often you stray from your primary topic. “We all have limited time and you don’t want your signal to noise ratio to drift too much over into noise. I’m a bit old fashioned and still think it may be good to keep some professional distance in the attorney-client relationship,” Calloway writes.

• Don’t expect your tweets to be kept private. Calloway opines, “In my view, the only safe way for a lawyer to operate is to assume there is [no security] and you are Tweeting to the front page of your newspaper or website.”

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