Note: This post, though addressed to paralegals, may be applied across the industry to include lawyers and legal professionals.
After a dozen years as library director at a law firm in New York City, I left in 2008 to start my own CLE consultancy. I grew the business by joining Twitter, creating a LinkedIn Group, Facebook Page, and crafting my own (initially) lame blog-site. I wrote about CLE issues on the blog and provided useful resources. I engaged on the social channels. I spent exactly zero dollars (apart from my time) on digital efforts. In today’s economy, you can’t wait to do this after you leave your job, you should do this while still at the firm to help you do your job more effectively and to pave the way for advancement and other opportunities.
As the business of law continues to change and traditional roles at law firms evolve, it’s imperative that paralegals, along with librarians, marketing professionals, and other staff, stay informed, equipped, and flexible, and armed with the latest information, tools, and technology.
My keynote address at the Paralegal Rainmakers’ Leadership Summit on enhancing a career with technology, social media, and blogging, started out as a discussion on blogging only, then during speaker meet-ups, the topic grew to include social media, and technology, and how they all play a role in the way paralegals perform their jobs and further their careers. Here are a few highlights.
Improve your writing – Paralegals have to write and are often evaluated on it. Your writing only gets better if you practice frequently – daily, if you can. Thing is, the position may not require you to write every day. Blogging can fill the gaps.
Build your brand – Barriers to publishing have been removed. Anyone with internet access can write and publish their thoughts for public consumption. Your law firm does it – on their website, blogs, etc. So should you. Blog about your area of expertise, the profession, the industry, the tools you use.
Contribute to your firm’s blog – If your firm doesn’t have a blog, seize the opportunity to advocate for one and to be the point person. For ideas on what lawyers blog about, see: Why Do You Blog? 23 Lawyers Weigh In.
Be on Social Media – Extend your brand to social media. Tweet useful links, follow leaders in the profession, retweet relevant information from them, engage. Tweet links to your posts.
Monitor Social Media – Breaking news, thought leaders, and the latest industry information can be found on twitter. Get educated and share useful information you learn with your team and the firm. Become a source of knowledge. Be known for it.
Be part of the firm’s online social voice – Using the platforms, discovering useful information, and identifying trends will show that you’re qualified to be part of the firm’s social media community outreach.
Here’s a tip: Check out these 50 Lawyers You Should Be Following on Twitter and 20 Legal Industry Twitter Accounts, then curate your own list of paralegals on Twitter to follow. Then write a blog post about it.
Paralegals can increase productivity and enhance their jobs with technology such as legal practice management software which provides efficient time and billing, case and document management, calendaring, and task management.
And, since we’re discussing how blogging and social media can improve a paralegal’s performance and career, here are a few tech tools that ramp up efficiency.
WordPress – Go with the number one platform for blogging. It’s free, intuitive, and can grow with you. It’s a full functioning content management system. Check out these WordPress Video Tutorials for Bloggers.
RELATED: 21 Tools For Lawyers Who Blog
Buffer – Social media doesn’t require hours of your time. Whenever you come across something useful to share, Buffer it. The app allows you to share and schedule posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ from one screen. See: Legal Productivity App Of The Week – Be Awesome on Twitter With Buffer App.
Feedly – Have favorite blogs and websites that you frequent? Add them to Feedly and when something new is published, it’ll appear in the app. A great way to keep up with information relevant to your interests. See: Going With Feedly.
Pocket – This “read later” app is essential. Instead of keeping dozens of browser tabs open with items you want to read – and that you almost never get back to – save it to read later. Great for reading articles before you tweet it out or for that blog post you’re working on. Install the bowser add-on and the app on your phone and you’re good go to. See: Pocket: Your DVR for the Web.
Evernote – Imagine never having to wonder where to store or where you left key information, notes, and ideas. Now imagine it all organized, searchable, and retrievable on your computer, phone, or on the web. That’s Evernote, the popular note-taking, information-storing, and productivity application. I like to say that it’s a place to offload my brain and organize my work and personal life. See: How Lawyers Use Evernote and Use Evernote as an Ideas File for Your Blog Posts.
Another significant benefit of social platforms and tech tools is the unprecedented opportunity to network with peers and others locally and across the globe.
Legal professional at law firms must go beyond their traditional, narrowly-defined roles in order to succeed and thrive. The tools and platforms are at their fingertips.