Use Twitter to build legal skills and knowledge

Twitter is a great platform for meeting and nurturing relationships with fellow professionals, sharing your thoughts and useful links, and catching up on the latest news and trends. It’s also a terrific tool to learn by monitoring targeted practice area topics and following industry and legal experts and thought leaders.

The Harvard Business Review recently published an article on how to use social media to build professional skills, knowledge, and relationships. The author, Alexandra Samuel (@awsamuel) recommends asking yourself three questions:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • When do I have time for learning?
  • Whom do I want to learn from or with?

She includes the range of social media channels but I’ll focus this discussion on Twitter and practices to help you become more knowledgable about your practice areas, industries, and clients.

If new to Twitter or not sure how to get the most out of it, take a look at How Lawyers Use Twitter where lawyers weigh-in on how they use the platform effectively.

Following

If you’re a family law attorney, follow other family law attorneys, related associations and legal and news accounts. Check out what they’re talking about and the links they’re sharing. Join the conversation. After you’ve amassed a number of follows, check the “Who to Follow” section in the right column on Twitter.com. More family law related suggestions will pop up since the recommendations are based on who you already follow. Check each potential follow since Twitter inexcusably includes dated accounts. It’s not terribly useful following someone who hasn’t tweeted in two years.

You’ll want to expand beyond your practice area topics to include legal technology, law firm business, industry leaders, and so on. To get started, check out 50 Lawyers You Should Be Following on Twitter and 20 Legal Industry Twitter Accounts to Follow.

Lists

The more accounts you follow the more useful information you’ll get and the more noise you’ll encounter. To keep useful information from being drowned out in a noisy Twitter stream, create lists. Go to twitter.com/yourtwitterhandle/lists and click on “create list”. Add your family law related follows to the newly created “family law” list.

Create a list – private or public – for every category you want to keep up with but don’t go too crazy or else checking each list every day becomes more of a chore. Five lists is a good number to shoot for. Here’s a good tutorial from the folks at SproutSocial: How to Use Twitter Lists: A Professional’s Guide.

Search

Using the search box on Twitter.com, run a search for “family law” or whatever narrower scope you wish to use. You’ll have the option to save the search on the results page. Along with your lists, this is a great place to start your Twitter experience every morning. Access your lists of saved searches by clicking in the search box. Like the lists feature above, third party clients like HootSuite provide a separate column to stream search results.

#Hashtags

There are many conversations going on at any given moment on Twitter, including live-tweeting a webinar or conference and #twitterchats. Search for #familylaw and save the search. As you come across other related hashtags, save them, especially Twitter chats as they tend to occur on a regular basis. So let’s say #familylawchat is a weekly Twitter session that you’re monitoring — you’ll be able to view the conversation stream and engage.

Conclusion

The process of acquiring knowledge and new and enhanced skills is unique to each individual, as is the impact on each attorney and law practice. The bottom line is there are many useful communities of legal and industry professionals and opportunities to learn and teach (one of the best ways to learn) on Twitter. But, it takes a consistent effort.

Additional resources

Unusual and Useful Twitter Search and Filtering Techniques
Effective Tweeting: A Twitter Checklist
ManageFlitter – Great tool to help you manage & clean up your Twitter account.