There have been some good posts lately on how lawyers can leverage the use of Twitter in their practice of law. Here are a few that I’ve seen lately, and some of the highpoints of each:

Is Social Media Incompatible with Billable Hours?Bentley Tolk

  • Given the realities of the billable hour system, where do social networking and new media fit in for lawyers? It can be difficult to carry on a stream of conversation through Twitter or Friendfeed when a lawyer is billing time. Is it even ethical for an attorney who is “on the clock” to check Twitter every 15 minutes?

Bentley Tolk hits some good questions about the dynamics of the law firm, and the way the billable hour method of business can cause some initial discouragement of using Twitter (because it obviously cuts into the lawyer’s time that should be billed in 6 minute increments!!) However, once you look at both the structure of Twitter, and the smart use of it that doesn’t cut into the billable time, a good lawyer can use Twitter as an additional resources to keep up with the information he or she gathers from their Twitter conversations.Brian Herrington was interviewed on his use of Twitter and the practice of law by Mississippi’s The Clairion-Ledger newspaper:

  • He also uses Twitter to keep up with colleagues. “A lot of us blog now, so if people are writing about topics I litigate, it’s a quick exchange of useful information.”

In other words, Brian is using Twitter as a “micro-blog” source, or in a way, more as a short email service that keeps him up-to-date with what his friends in the legal industry are talking (or rather Twittering) about. Then there are some that seem to miss the boat on what Twitter actually can do to help a lawyer in the practice of law. CalLaw’s blog, LegalPad, put out a recent article entitled Twitter: As Silly for Lawyers as for Anyone Else? It was cute, and a little funny, but Brian McDonough should probably stick to subjects that he is more familiar with. Granted, Twitter can be difficult to “get your head around”… but, it is a resource that can help with keeping attorneys informed on recent trends, good articles, and current awareness issues dealing with legal issues. Probably just as good, or maybe better than CalLaw’s weekly news reports.

  • While I can’t imagine that, say, Quinn Emanuel is going to be landing any nine-figure, bet-the-company litigation because someone in their extended twit family “tweeted” out something like, “ne1 kno a gud atty 4 IP lit pls thx?” I do suppose that attorneys on the boutique and solo scale might find better uses for any convenient and inexpensive opportunity to network.

Brian seems to place Twitter as a Text-Messaging service for 16 year olds. I’m afraid that he’s missed the point. Luckily, there were lots of good responses to Brian’s posting, and hopefully, he has been better informed on the methods behind using Twitter in a legal practice specific way (not as a resource to text your BFF.)I’m not saying that Twitter is the do-all to end-all, but, when done right, it can produce a good resource to keep you informed on some of the latest trending and issues in the legal field. For a good overview of using Twitter, see Heather Milligan’s posting on the Legal Water Cooler.