Thursday, December 17, 2009

Do Lawyers Need Protection From Themselves On Twitter?

There's been a bit of a sweeping cleanup of the cess pool that is twitter these days. Those parading as lawyers or "former lawyers" have been called out on their qualifications, and lack thereof. They have quietly removed the lies about their background, while taking advice from "internet defamation lawyers" to "not engage." That's good advice to those who have nothing of any relevance to say.

And yesterday an interesting question was asked from an anonymous commenter on Brian Cuban's Blog: Do lawyers really need that much protection?

Great question.

Do lawyers not do their own research to see the background of the person who wants them to "blog for profit" or if the latest "twitter for lawyers" book was written by a lawyer who is suspended, or if the real estate "lawyer" who wants lawyers to network with her firm was recently convicted and is currently delinquent with the Bar?


These are desperate times.

And desperate lawyers would rather follow people lying about their qualifications as social media experts than real lawyers who may have a tip or two about becoming not a better tweeter, but a better lawyer.

Here's the proof:

Listed below are some of the people who are perceived to be "social media" and "tech" types on twitter that are or were lawyers, or market to lawyers, and their followers:

Grant Griffiths (Disbarred) 6,302 Followers

Adrian Dayton 41,812 Followers.

Sheryl Sisk Schelin (Suspended) 772 Followers.

Stephen Fairley 10,256 Followers.

Now here's a sampling of a few lawyers who actually have clients, may go to court, generally spend their days "practicing law," and their followers on twitter: (This is not an "all-inclusive list of all the great "real" lawyers on twitter, so please stop emailing me).

Eric Turkewitz - Personal Injury Lawyer 291 Followers

Mark Bennett - Criminal Defense Lawyer - 536 Followers

Scott Phillips - General Practice Lawyer - 240 Followers

Ben Kearney - Business Law - 214 Followers

Ken Lammers - Prosecutor - 139 Followers

Gideon - a public defender - 593 Followers

Donzell - another public defender - 223 Followers

Cynthia Henley 277 Followers, and Jackie Carpenter 68 Followers - female criminal defense lawyers (not many of those unfortunately).

And the incomparable Scott Greenfield - criminal defense lawyer - 812 Followers.

And yes, there are the exceptions - some "real" lawyers have thousands of followers. But the difference in general between those who market to lawyers, and those who are lawyers is remarkable.

So this begs the question to the lawyers on twitter - don't any of you aspire to be like any of these lawyers? Practice in areas in which these lawyers practice? Learn something that may make you a better lawyer?

Or are you just looking for the latest IPhone app?

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit



Christopher G. Hill said...


As an actual practicing attorney who really doesn't know anything about how I got the followers I got except by word of mouth, I am not sure that you can equate low follower count with actual attorney. It's possible I haven't been as selective as I'd like. I don't take legal advice or anything else that I could get bitten by from Twitter, and have met many folks (you among them) that have been great to follow.

Sometimes you just have to dive in and weed out those you don't really get anything from.

shg said...

This is an excellent post. I will bookmark this for future reference.

Moshe said...

I think the point Brian is making is that there a hundreds and thousands of legal professionals on twitter. Why do so many follow the charlatans and so few follow the real attorneys?

bsajdak said...

I think part of the problem is the manner in which twitter works (or has historically worked). The self-appointed social media mavens are out there actively seeking new followers. They search for lawyers and add them with the hope that those followed will follow back. That, coupled with the large number of people who auto-follow those who follow them means social media types can add followers quickly.

The lawyers on twitter who actively practice law do not (or at least I don't) go out and search out all of the lawyers on twitter. Instead, most of us follow new people only when their paths cross with someone else we follow. New lists feature can help that because its easier to find fellow lawyers now. However, even then, its hard to follow TOO many people because it becomes a full-time job to keep up with all of those tweets.

Brian Tannebaum said...

I understand that the social media types don't block spam followers and have a lot of BS followers that real lawyers will block, therefore lowering their follower count.

There is still a great disparity between the followers of those that market to lawyers, and real lawyers. I think most lawyers on twitter are looking for ways to make money, not become better lawyers

The Namby Pamby said...

Thanks for the list. [I've gone and followed them all]

Even though I use twitter for my attempts at humor in the blog world and just as a general outlet for semi-anonymous retorts, I would rather follow actual lawyers. I don't typically look for people to follow and I also hear of them by word of mouth. But the actual lawyers allow for me to hear of things going on in my field, in the profession and let me know if I am trying to really foul things up.

Thanks again. I'm glad I found your blog (even though I've been following you on twitter for an extended period of time).

Mark Bennett said...

I created a fictional character whose only trait was that she followed back anyone who followed her.

So far she has 3,000+ "followers."

Christopher G. Hill said...

Amazing how that happens! Following just to get followers does not seem to make any sense to me. That reminds me, I need to cull my herd. Haven't done that in a while.