Lance Lawyer is enjoying a quiet meal with his law school roommate, Scott. After graduation, however, they took different professional paths. Lance is a shareholder in a small law firm practicing elder law; while Scott, whose family had long been in the military, is a JAG lawyer.
Over coffee, the conversation turns to marketing.
"We spend a lot of time and money on our website, blog, and social media," said Lance. "I need to update my blog tonight."
"I'm glad I don't need to do any marketing," said Scott.
"I'm not sure about that," said Lance. "What if you decide to leave the military? No one will know you exist."
Lance is right. Scott, like the many other lawyers who turn from a traditional practice to use their skills in such establishments as the government—federal, state, and local; the judiciary—judge, magistrate, or clerk; legislature, house counsel for corporations, or academia, still should consider maintaining an Internet presence.
Why do you or other non-traditional lawyers need an online presence?
An online presence in the form of a social media profile or website is as necessary for non-traditional lawyers as it is for lawyers working as solo practitioners or in a law firm. It isn't only consumers who search for lawyers on the web; other lawyers also read those profiles.
Scott can establish relationships and connections that would otherwise be unworkable because of distance and time. These are lawyers you can meet only through e-mail, text, or perhaps a short telephone call. Those associations can be as strong and as important to your career as the ones established face-to-face at networking functions.
Lawyers can use the knowledge gained in other fields to make a career change. A lawyer working for a governmental agency today could establish a connection and soon be practicing for a law firm in their government relations department. Legal publishing experience could lead to consulting on copyright and drafting contracts with agents and publishers. Managing an international non-profit could be helpful if you wanted to practice in international law. Retired judges often turn to mediation and arbitration.
These movements from non-traditional to traditional legal careers will only succeed if the world knows that you're out there. And the easiest and most cost-efficient way to become known is through an online presence. Using social media, LinkedIn, or the SBM Member Directory, you can network within the legal field and market your practice to potential clients.
A legal career, whether traditional or non-traditional, can last decades. It can take many twists and turns as you travel along. Using the Internet to establish relationships with other lawyers and potential clients will help make the journey manageable, profitable, and more pleasurable.
Roberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.
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