The debate is raging online. The ABA is talking about the possibility of regulating online content - blogs, Facebook, twitter, websites, and the marketers are not having any of it.
Many of the lawyers aren't all that interested either.
Ethics is the enemy of good marketing, cry the marketers.
The marketers call it "regulation." As I've said before here, I'm all for good regulation, and I agree that it could get out of control. It's a tough spot to be in - to be a lawyer that wants a little more regulation of the wild-west that has become the internet, but worries it could become oppressive.
Marketing is a simple concept. You know that picture on the menu at the fast food restaurant of the hamburger you're about to order? It's plump, juicy, the tomato is perfectly cut, the lettuce looks like the ruffle on a hand made dress?
Then you open the wrapper.
Take for example the one guy who couldn't be happier that I've taken a break from twitter - Adrian Dayton (sorry Adrian, no link love here, I do know how much you love it.)
Adrian graduated law school, worked for a firm for 8 months (after 6 there was no work to be had), and while there he read some documents regarding a $450 million dollar closing. Then he fell in love with twitter. He now says he's a change agent for BigLaw - he consults with "large law firms" on using twitter and other social media.
Here's part of his bio:
Adrian Dayton is an attorney with a passion for growing law practices through the power of social media. As an expert in the field....
Expert in the field? What field? Who named him (other than him) an expert?
It doesn't matter. There are no rules.
I'm an expert in starting my car in the morning. I'm also an expert in opening my mail.
And his take on reading documents in an office for that $450 million dollar deal?
Before founding his current business, Adrian spent almost a year working as a corporate attorney with Jaeckle Fleishmann and Mugel where he and his team closed a merger worth approximately $450 million dollars.
His team! He! Adrian closed a $450 million dollar deal.
Hey folks, run with it. There's no rules, no ethics necessary.
I've asked Adrian to discuss all of this, but, well, what's the point. The goal here is to convince others, (i.e. Marketing) to hire him. As long as no one asks the important questions, or does the 5 minute investigation, no one will ever know the absolute truth.
What if regulations caused Adrian to have to say this:
Adrian Dayton worked for less than a year at a law firm and was then laid off. While there, his firm did a $450 merger for which Adrian read some documents. After leaving, he found twitter and decided to begin a career teaching others how to use the free online site. He even wrote a book about twitter. While this is the total sum of his experience, he is a social media consultant to large law firms, and calls himself an expert.
I don't do death penalty work. Thirteen years ago I did some research on a death penalty case and went to interview the client, post-conviction. The appellate lawyer I did the research for, won the appeal and then tried the case to an acquittal.
"Brian Tannebaum is an experienced death penalty lawyer, having successfully represented the defendant in a double murder, post-conviction, where the case was reversed and then tried to an acquittal."
Like that, marketers? It's awesome, huh?
It's also bullshit.
That's why you like it.
Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. He is the author of I Got A Bar Complaint.