Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Social Media and Spreading the Word about Those Who Do So Much Good for Those in Need

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Recently my wife and I attended an event held by a newly formed Baltimore organization known as Rebels with a Cause. Frankly, I have to admit, I hadn’t heard of this organization before. According to the event flyer published by the person we are sponsoring, this is a local group of bicycle riders who are joining the Ride for a Feast 140 mile bike ride from Ocean City to Baltimore, MD. (Whew! Glad I’m only a sponsor).

Saturday night came and we traveled to Gertrude’s, a restaurant at the Baltimore Museum of Art which provided the venue for a pre-event gathering of this group of dedicated, good-cause-driven riders. A ticket was reasonably priced, but the better news was that all money collected from those attending was being given to Moveable Feast.

Now I had even more “research” to do – what is Moveable Feast (yes, that’s the correct spelling), I wondered. Turns out, it’s a great organization with the following mission:

People with AIDS and other life-challenging conditions often become caught in a vicious cycle of poor appetite and physical weakness that prevents them from providing adequate meals for themselves.

That’s why we’re here – to help. To provide nutritious, free meals and other services to people who are sick and need our support.

The charity’s mission is for those with HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. What a fabulous idea and a worthy cause!

I’m not only writing this piece to let others know about these two organizations, I wanted to share some thoughts about charities, community service programs and social media/the internet.

Yes, there are a vast number of great charities in our country alone. According to one published article, in 2010, there were 1,014,816, of which 507,603 had filed with the IRS. By anyone’s count, that’s a lot of charities. Keep in mind, this is only the number of charities in our country. This doesn’t take into account how many community or social service organizations – that are not charities within the definition of this term – exist throughout our land. I did a quick Google search using the terms “Baltimore community service organizations” and found one site containing 436 directory listings. Granted a number of  these are also “charities,” but not all. I don’t even have a clue how to tabulate the number of such community service organizations there are in this country. Finally, I wondered, what about all of the church-sponsored organizations or hospital-based organizations that offer comfort, assistance and guidance to those in various states of need. You get the idea – the number nationwide must be incredible.

What does this have to do with lawyers on Facebook, Twitter and the Internet?

Just a little over a year ago, our firm ventured into the murky waters of blogging and social media. We fumbled and bumbled around trying to figure out how this was supposed to bring clients to our door so that we represent those with valid cases. As time passed and I started to observe more than tweet and post, I began to realize that social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are about people connecting with people and those like LinkedIn are wonderful B2B sites.

Having recognized the power of Facebook and Twitter to spread the word on what we know and write about (law, health, medicine, safety, etc.), we stopped posting rehashes of legal rulings, medical malpractice verdicts, and the like and started to publish content loaded with information about “trying to get the word out so you never need a guy like me.” I self-described my social media profile persona as a “Newbie but lover of Blogging on tips n’ tricks (and other stuff) to wisely use healthcare.” Frankly, the readership response has been so rewarding it’s hard to describe. The fact that we are now exceeding 10,000 visitors a month to our site with almost 18,000 pages viewed is beyond our wildest dreams.

Alright – it seems like we may be getting a better idea of the role of social media and how we might be able to “give back” to our community on both a local and national level. As I’ve learned, however, you can’t just “live on the internet.” You need person-to-person contact and involvement.

A new project is being announced

We’re just at the initial phase of our new project; however, we got some really involved, dedicated folks here at the firm. Our current plans include identifying some events we can promote and be personally involved with – yes, even if it means we’ve got to get away from the law books and our computers and get “out there” in the non-digital world to lend support and a helping hand when we can.

Soon we’ll be announcing more details of our community (Baltimore and Washington, D.C.) plans for action.

This fall, there’s an event known as the Race for the Cure. We’ll be throwing our hat in the ring and trying to get our own backers so that we can collect money for this worthy cause. We’re working on a project to help the kids in Baltimore in a civic organization that has been around for years. Frankly, there’s a whole list of projects we now have underway. More announcements to come in the weeks and months ahead.

As lawyers we get to help individuals and their families when they have been injured by the fault of others. That’s been one way to give back to our communities. Now we are going to add to those efforts on a broader community scale. We’re excited about all of the projects and look forward to sharing more with you in future posts.

Jann Rosen-Queralt - Our Rebel With a Cause

One final note

A big congratulations is in order for all those many volunteers out there in our communities.

On a personal note, congratulations and good luck to our own Rebel with a Cause, Jann Rosen-Queralt, whom we’re sponsoring in the upcoming Ride for a Feast.

Jann has collected thousands of dollars in sponsorship contributions. She and her group of “Rebels” are wonderfully giving of their time and energy in the promotion of this incredible cause.

We wish her and all the participants in the Ride Good Luck and safe travels.

 





 

Image from: ourladyofpeaceschool.net

The 22Tweets Interview Experience: An Invaluable Lesson Learned

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Some weeks ago, I was contacted by Lance Godard of The Godard Group, who asked if I would be interested in being interviewed live on 22Tweets at some future date. The concept of the show is for Lance to provide a forum, using the concept of a Twitter mash-up, for lawyers who tweet to tell their story “one tweet at a time.”

We were able to coordinate a date and the interview took place this past Tuesday. As you might expect, the interviewee is presented with twenty-two questions by Lance. The questions and responses are presented in live streaming format on Twitter.

For those of you who are not familiar with Twitter, your message is limited to 140 characters, which is somewhat of an oxymoron – lawyers limiting their world-shaking thoughts to just 140 characters?!

Getting ready for the big day, I studied some of Lance’s interviews with other lawyers. Sweat broke out on my brow. I wondered – how do you answer questions such as these:

  • Tell us about your law practice
  • Tell us about the clients you represent. Who are they?
  • Why do your clients hire you?
  • What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?

If that wasn’t bad enough, I then was queried about the following:

  • Your firm has a blog, Eye Opener (http://bit.ly/bqnokj). Who is it for? Why should they read it?
  • In addition to the blog, you’re active on Twitter and have a Facebook page. What’s your social media strategy?

Try it some time. Figure out what you do, how you do it, and then the biggest question of all – why you do what you do – all in roughly 140 characters!

After the panic subsided, I started to appreciate what a wonderful opportunity this whole process was – no, not just for exposure or for “getting the word out” about our firm, our philosophy and the like. I had to truly reach into the core of our firm, our clients and our soul to answer Lance Godard’s 22 questions.

Fortunately, a few days before going live on 22Tweets, I happened across a video presentation by Simon Sinek on TED entitled How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

Find about 18 minutes of time and watch this inspirational piece. You won’t be disappointed.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

Sinek has created a construct known as the “golden circle.” He asks, why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Why should anyone care about your organization? What do Apple, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King have in common?

He effectively argues that people respond to the why of what you do. People want to do business with those who are able to “communicate from the inside out” – the why is shared with them, and they respond if the why resonates with them. He then warns – if you don’t know why you do what you do, then why would people want to hire you or be inspired by you.

Other gurus in fields such as marketing, branding and the like talk about “defining your goals” and “identifying your niche.” Sounds like the same why question, doesn’t it?

Thankful to people like Simon Sinek, who made me consider the why of what we do, I began my quest to define our why so that I could respond to my upcoming 22 questions.

Lance Godard and 22Tweets were really the ones who forced me to step back and think about issues I should have be contemplating for some time now. I will be forever grateful to him and 22Tweets for doing so. Whether I was able to communicate “our why,” I leave that to others to judge. I only know I will continue to consider some of those 22 questions and try to figure out as best I can – why we do what we do at Nash & Associates. Hopefully we will get a better understanding of ourselves and our clients as we explore and better answer that question.

I hope you in the legal profession get the opportunity that was afforded to us by Lance Godard of 22Tweets. We will always be thankful to him and his group for that wonderful opportunity to get to know ourselves more so that we can serve our clients better.

Social Media Platforms: Are they really for Lawyers or just People who are Lawyers?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Lawyers and social networking platforms really don’t seem to fit together very well – do they? Many lawyers stumble into social networking simply because they attended some seminar or read some article or blog that told them they are behind the eight ball if their firm is not engaging in social network marketing. “Print media advertising is a thing of the past – get on board with the new marketing of the 21st Century – the internet and social media channels!”

It’s exactly this concept of using social media channels only as a marketing tool that leads to what we see today in places like Twitter and Facebook. Just type in #lawyer, #legal or #attorney in your Twitter search bar and see what you get. Here are some really socially-driven and engaging tweets:

  • If you need a lawyer to handle your messy divorce situation, connect with … then the link to the firm’s website’s contact page.
  • Looking for the right lawyer?
  • Have you been in an accident and need a lawyer?
  • Need a bankruptcy lawyer who has over 20 years of experience….?
  • Have you been arrested for drunk driving? We’re here to help!

You get the idea. Is there anything wrong with this? No…but is it really using the concept of social networking properly or just using social network platforms for advertising or marketing? Me thinks the latter.

Why would anyone want to “connect” with a lawyer?

When I was mulling over this topic with my wife, she astutely likened lawyers to undertakers on social networks. Do you really want to have a “conversation” with an undertaker? Sure – if you need one I guess. Maybe that’s where the internet has replaced Yellow Pages or Yellow Book. But would you really go to Facebook or Twitter to find such a “service provider” or would you probably use a search engine like Google, Bing, Yahoo or whatever.

As lawyers, especially in our firm’s fields of medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury, what do we offer our “communities” by way of product, entertainment, conversation – or just plain fun? Not a whole lot! Let’s face it, we deal with injury, death – catastrophe – plain and simple. We don’t sell a product like a car, cool T-shirts, a new song or any other “fun commodity.” We are a service industry that is laced with ethical restrictions on what we can say and do on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. We really aren’t a fun group in general or at least our professional lives don’t evoke warm and fuzzy feelings with the public.

Lessons learned and a long time for the awakening:

At my age (just check out the profile picture and take a guess – no, I’m not in my 40′s or 50′s), I was not into this whole social networking gig about a year ago. I was one of those who heard that if you were going to compete in the marketplace, you better have a Twitter account and a Facebook page. So in I ventured, not having a clue what I was doing. I used a logo, did my blog, posted it through Twitter and Facebook, and it pretty much ended there. I couldn’t figure out why all this great content was not spurring constant, passionate conversations with my Fans and Followers. I watched what was happening on others pages and tweets. Why weren’t my peeps engaging me on Twitter nor my fans filling my Facebook page with zesty comments?

It took a long, long time – but the light finally went on. People have enough bad news in their everyday lives. They want to have fun, engage, meet and communicate with other people, who may have something to bring to the table. They don’t need lawyers in their everyday lives – or at least hopefully they don’t.

When and how did this epiphany occur? I was sitting at my computer on father’s day and just had the urge to write a blog in honor of my father, who died over 18 years ago. It had zero to do with the law, but it had everything to do with just wanting people to know something about him and my relationship with him. I wrestled with the concept of putting this on the firm’s blog. Was this a place to post such a piece? Well – since I didn’t have any other forum, it just hit the “publish” button on my WordPress screen. Away it went – and the comments came pouring in. Wow – there really were people out there reading what I wrote!

Don’t get me wrong, our blog is not devoted to personal pieces. What this experience taught me, however, is that if I was ever going to have any communication with my fans and tweeps, I should try being a person who’s a lawyer, not a lawyer trying to engage or market my friends and followers.

So what have I learned and where do I go from here?

There’s no doubt that if I just want to meet new people (network) and engage in conversations with many people I would never in this lifetime have met were it not for communities such as Facebook and Twitter, I could use my personal profile page and a Twitter name other than NashLawFirm. Do I have personal connections and engagements on my personal Facebook page? I sure do. A lot of what takes place there is not meant for my Fan Page (interesting choice of words, Mark Zuckerberg).

So the question remains – why should our firm be on Facebook or Twitter? As they say, “the jury’s still out” for the full answer to that one. Does anyone really understand how this phenomenon called social media developed, exploded or where it’s going? I don’t think so. Businesses simply know they better be there, or they’ll be left in the dust in this competitive world. So – here we are – Facebook-posting and tweeting with the best of them.

But what’s different now? What has time and experience taught me? Answer: I’m still learning and figuring it out. That being said, since we are lawyers with a niche practice, since being on social media platforms really is a method for marketing who we are and what we do, since it is a method to publish content to the world, since it is a way to share some knowledge and information with our followers and friends, and since consistently adding new content to our website is apparently good for search engine optimization, here we are!

All that being said, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (yes, I hyperlinked them in case you want to become part of our family- a word I purposely chose), I have really learned that there’s a world of fascinating, friendly, engaging people out there whom I never would have met were it not for such social media platforms. So many people have knowledge, information and advice that they are willing to freely share, it’s simply amazing. So many people just like to connect, banter and chat- it’s been eye-opening and – quite frankly – fun!

Do we have fun with our Facebook and Twitter communities of fans and friends? We do now, and I love it. Do we share information about the law, medicine, product safety, important trends in law and medicine, and the like? We sure do – that’s what we offer our communities on Facebook and Twitter. Do I engage in some personal fun and banter with my more “vocal“ friends and fans? You bet I do – and those, quite frankly, are some of the more fun-filled times I spend on Facebook and Twitter.

So – here’s to my new friends and tweeps – thanks! You’ve made my life richer. I will try to figure out how to best give back to you what you give to me and the other folks in our firm. Sorry it took so long to figure it out…but I believe we’re on the right path now. Let’s continue to have fun, learn some things from each other and just have an interesting place to meet. Yes, meet! That’s what social networking really provides – an interesting and fun place to meet new friends, share some thoughts and sometimes laughs and get to know each other a little better.

Social Media and the Attorney-Client Privilege: Waiving Your Privilege – Be Forewarned and Use Common Sense!

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Last week I attended a brown-bag lunch meeting conducted by the Baltimore City Bar Association entitled “Ethical Considerations for Social Networking for Lawyers.” (Yes, you cynics – we do have ethics – most of us do at least.)

As the crowd gathered in the bar library, I was somewhat fascinated by the demographics of the group attending. Many of the attendees were from my generation and beyond. No, I’m not going to make it easy, you can click on the ‘About Brian Nash‘ link on our blog page and figure out my age. Let’s put it this way – I’m not just out of law school.

Initially I was impressed that the older folks even knew what ‘social media’ meant. Well, it turns out many of them have a different definition than we Tweeps, Friends and Followers. Guess they thought it had to do with advertising in the Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog. (Boy, I hope they’re not reading this! – chances are they are not since it would require a computer.)

Let’s get down to the subject at hand. One of the topics that surfaced during the discussion was the issue of whether or not a client could be found to have waived the attorney-client privilege by communicating with their friends, followers and/or connections on social media networks. Further time was devoted to how ‘those-in-the-know’ have been dealing with this potential nightmarish issue. I want to share some of the group’s thoughts and some of my own on further reflection. My hope is that these ‘tips, tricks and warnings’ will prove to be of some help – not only the public as clients but to my fellow lawyers, who may not have considered these issues before.

The Attorney-Client Privilege:

Let me start by giving the requisite disclaimer: No, you are not my client because we are Friends on Facebook or following each other on Twitter or you are reading this blog. No, this is not legal advice. That’s the short version.

What is this privilege? I could quote Black’s Law Dictionary, but in the spirit of the internet, here’s what version 1.0 and 2.0 of the cyberspace’s bible (read: Wikipedia) has to say:

The attorney-client privilege is one of the oldest recognized privileges for confidential communications. The United States Supreme Court has stated that, by assuring confidentiality, the privilege encourages clients to make “full and frank” disclosures to their attorneys, who are then better able to provide candid advice and effective representation.

So how could a tweet, a posting or a comment potentially waive such a sacred and revered protection?

While what constitutes a waiver can at times vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and certainly from one fact pattern to another, there are some common principles of law that seem to apply.

  • the disclosure must be voluntary and inconsistent with the confidential nature of the attorney-client relationship.
  • the disclosure of the communication with one’s attorney by a client has been made to “unnecessary third parties.”

While law libraries are filled with cases interpreting and ruling on issues of waiver of the privilege, these two elements (intentional disclosure to an unnecessary third party) are sufficient to frame the issue for our discussion.

Does voluntary mean ‘intentional’ – or put another way: “Geez, I didn’t mean to do that.” The short answer (albeit being overly simplistic) is “no, not necessarily.” One of the central issues is – was the disclosure voluntary. Some courts and legal writers suggest that if the disclosure is “inadvertent” (therefore, not voluntary) that this is not a waiver of the privilege. Well, as with most things in the law, there is a laundry list of factors that can be considered to determine if a defense of inadvertent will withstand a challenge to waiver. Some of these might be as follows:

  • the reasonableness (a favorite legal word that can mean anything to anyone) of the precautions taken to prevent inadvertent disclosure
  • the number of inadvertent disclosures
  • the extent of disclosure
  • the delay and measures taken to rectify the disclosure

Well what if you didn’t intend it – or so you say? First of all, I’m not quite sure I want to be standing in front of a judge arguing that when you broadcast a communication you had with your lawyer on Facebook, Twitter or whatever other networking site you live on, you really didn’t intend to type what you typed and then hit ‘enter.’

Can there also be an implied waiver? – another meaningful legal term that keeps all of us lawyers in business. Without getting into a dissertation (more the subject of a law review article) on what constitutes an implied waiver, suffice it to say that this can occur when the client places the communication with their lawyer which goes to the heart of the controversy.

Intent (just like reasonable) generally speaking is one of those fuzzy terms that breeds litigation. For purposes of this article, let’s just focus on whether you intended to put this disclosure out there for your friends and followers. Was the topic you were communicating to your friends/followers (i.e. more than likely defined as “unnecessary third parties”) a confidential communication you had with your lawyer or maybe with your lawyer’s staff?

If it meets these two tests, you will have a difficult if not impossible hurdle to overcome in defending a claim by the opposing lawyer that you waived the attorney-client privilege.

You have now been warned – don’t do it! I know the devil made  your fingers fly over the keyboard when you told your 482 friends about what your lawyer just told you –  about how your case is progressing, or key information your lawyer just discovered, or even your lawyer’s brilliant strategy for getting you a top dollar settlement in your case. The “devil defense” is probably not going to work.

The same goes for lawyers. First of all, the privilege is not the lawyer’s; it belongs in modern jurisprudence to the client. I fully realize that you are just dying to share with your network of legal eagles your most recent brilliant strategy that even Clarence Darrow would never have thought of; however, if you reveal the strategy of a client’s case on such a public forum and it is discovered, you can probably expect a letter from your local attorney grievance commission.

While there are a host of related issues that I will be writing about in the future (e.g. tips and tricks for lawyers during the intake process to identify social media platforms your clients are frequenting, notifications in your fee agreements, and the like), I leave you with one final piece of advice (free at that!!): DON’T DO IT! Keep your communications with your lawyer (clients) off the public social media platforms.

I’m sure you are confident that your user name is so ingenious – LegalBoy528AZ  or imgonnaberichsoon – that you will never get caught. You type away figuring that you’re smarter than any dumb opposing lawyer. Trust me – you don’t want to make that assumption. In fact, in a future blog, I’ll discuss court rulings on this topic of discovery of social media data that may surprise you  - and not in a good way.

To borrow a catchphrase from the TV show Hill Street Blues – “Let’s be safe out there!” I might also add – “Let’s be smart our there!”