I had to look at my calendar today to confirm that it was Veterans Day and not April Fools Day. Otherwise, I would have thought LexBlog owner Kevin O'Keefe was completely joking.
Lawyers are ill served by those preaching the pitfalls and perils of social media.
(And the social media marketers cheer - "Thanks Kevin, we need the support!")
Thank you Kevin. Thank you for confirming what I've been saying for a long time - the social media marketers can't deal with the naysayers. The marketers all tow the line, they all support each other, and their goal is not only to convince lawyers that social media is "it," but that those that disagree are wrong and hurting their attempts to get dollars from desperate lawyers.
Kevin says the following:
There are forces of lawyers, conferences, publications, and associations who are scaring lawyers from using social media. Perhaps not on purpose, but by emphasizing the risks of a lawyer using social media over the rewards they're having that effect.
He laments the red flashing lights in the form the of risks in using social media.
He considers "scare tactics" to be discussions of:
•Inadvertent Attorney-Client Relationships
•Conflicts of Interest
•Communications and Advertising
•Unauthorized Practice of Law
•Improper Contact and Misconduct
•Duty of Candor
i.e. - Ethics.
While he calls these legitimate questions and concerns, he then says what can only be described as the punch line to the joke:
And no one, especially me, is saying the Internet is an 'ethics free zone' for lawyers.
Excuse me Kevin, but are you fucking kidding me?
Ethics is the enemy of good online marketing. There's unethical behavior all over the internet. We may like to think it's a small minority, but that's just not the case.
Kevin's point about what he's reading on the internet, the "scare tactics," and the warnings, is that for example: If I'm young solo practitioner doing family law, I'm thinking twice about starting a family law blog.
Kevin believes that though lawyers may hear of the sensational, it's the sensational that makes for good news - and that the sensational is the exception not the rule.
No Kevin, it's becoming the norm. As more and more lawyers run to the internet to create a client base, more and more of them are outright lying about their experience and skills.
What I like about Kevin's post is that he is completely honest - he just wants the negative discussion to stop. For social media marketers and sales people, the bottom line is what's important. It's a sales industry, and no one sells when people poo-poo the product, even a little.
He says he's not asking for it to stop though:
As an editor, conference coordinators, author, or speaker, you're highly influential. Please temper your discussion on the risks of social media. Sure talk risks. But the rewards to lawyers using social media are so great. Mention them.
But then he does:
No more 'pitfalls and perils' articles and presentations. Let's talk about what's really going on. Let's recognize the risks while emphasizing the rewards.
Emphasizing the rewards? You mean selling social media to lawyers.
Kevin says if we do that we'll improve the lives of lawyers.
I'm sorry, but I will not stop talking about the pitfalls of social media, regardless of the fact that the marketers have all blocked me, cried to each other in private about "those mean lawyers" on the internet that are spoiling it for everyone, and determined the best way to deal with their own lack of ethics is to hope no one is reading.
Lawyers should be concerned about the pitfalls - isn't that what practicing lawyers do - evaluate the pitfalls of a proposed strategy and determine whether to move forward? I'm sorry, I forgot, most of the marketers haven't practiced law at all, or for a very long time.
So it's just about writing the checks to the marketers. These are sales people trying to make a living off lawyers - think they give a crap about your ethics or your Bar complaint?
I think social media, blogs, Facebook, and all that other crap (sorry for calling it crap, marketers) are great tools if used properly and ethically.
That's not what's happening here, and we all, we all know 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.