What Lawyers Can Learn From the SCOTUS Nominee Twitter Campaign

March 24, 2016, 2:54 PM

Editor’s Note: The author of this post is an assistant general counsel for Microsoft-based in Chicago.

By Dennis Garcia, Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft Corporation

As Twitter celebrates its tenth anniversary we continue to see its growing impact in the legal profession. On the same day that President Obama announced Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as his nominee to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court of the United States, the White House unveiled the Twitter account @SCOTUSnom called “SCOTUS Nomination.” By using this Twitter account as a vehicle to continually post or “tweet” information about Judge Garland — including a brilliant and insightful video interview of the Judge himself — the White House is playing “offense” to promote his nomination to the American people. After just three days @SCOTUSnom had over 30k followers.

This is just one example of how Twitter can be leveraged in the legal profession. Many lawyers and legal organizations ranging from Chief Legal Officers/General Counsels to law firms to legal non-profits to state Attorneys General to law schools have established a Twitter presence. I have been actively using Twitter for the past year and wish that I had started earlier. Here’s a few potential benefits of Twitter for lawyers:

Twitter = Growth Mindset

Twitter provides lawyers with a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge and learn. It has become my primary news feed as I follow over 700 Twitter accounts that provide me with the latest information I need about my company, our customers/competitors/partners and the legal environment in general so that I can provide more impactful legal advice to my business clients.

Provides Platform to be an Evangelist

At Microsoft we have a saying that “everyone is a seller.” The same philosophy is especially true for all lawyers as we are constantly using our powers of persuasion. Twitter offers a powerful platform to evangelize your beliefs to a broad audience. I’m routinely tweeting information on topics that I’m passionate about such as Microsoft’s trustworthy cloud computing solutions, the intersection of technology and the law, social media and how to improve diversity in the legal profession.

Network Expansion

Twitter can help grow your professional network. Since I’ve been using Twitter I’ve met many people that I probably would not have met via other forms of social media or on my own. In fact, the reason I’m a monthly contributor to Bloomberg BNA Big Law Business is due to the connections I made through Twitter. Twitter’s Direct Message capability (which is not limited by Twitter’s 140-character limitation for tweets) to send private messages is a useful way to connect with people.

Branding and Visibility

Build your own professional brand via Twitter by tweeting or retweeting information that may be of interest to others — soon you may develop a network of followers. Also don’t be shy in amplifying your various accomplishments via Twitter. Whenever I serve as a panelist at a continuing legal education event or write an article, I share that information via Twitter.

It’s Free and Easy to Use

The heading above is “Res Ipsa Loquitur” (a legal doctrine and Latin term meaning “the thing speaks for itself” that many of us will remember from our Torts class during law school).

Of course just like any other type of social media it’s important to be very thoughtful when using Twitter so please keep these best practices in mind:

  • Review and comply with the various legal ethics rules pertaining to a lawyer’s use of social media within your particular jurisdiction and any social media guidelines for your organization.

  • Be smart when you post on Twitter and assume that your postings have the potential to appear on the front page of The New York Times or go “viral” on the internet.

  • Avoid posting any information that may be considered confidential information of your organization or third parties.

  • Invest the time in developing a meaningful Twitter profile (and update that profile as needed).

  • Remember that in order for you to accrue benefits with Twitter you need to use it on a regular basis.

Don’t be afraid to try Twitter, best of luck in the Twitterverse and please feel free to follow me on Twitter @DennisCGarcia.

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