Monday, August 17, 2009

e-Resources for Lawyers

Slowly, but surely, the legal profession appears to be embracing the Internet.

It has been a justifiably cautious embrace, I might add. Online participation requires us to confront very real concerns about security, confidentiality, privacy - and professional responsibility - in a wholly new context.

We live in an information-centric marketplace that is evolving in real time, before our very eyes.

It is increasingly dominated by Web 2.0 services like blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube. For lawyers, in particular, there are new document-distribution services such as Scribd and JD Supra. These sites offer lawyers and all professionals a new and unparalleled opportunity to communicate with our clients and the global marketplace as a whole.

Historically, of course, the legal profession's adoption of new technologies has rarely been driven by any collective love of new gadgetry. Rather it is our clients that have always dragged us from the past to the future (some of us kicking and screaming in the process).

Our clients are using the Web - to seek information, to find professionals to assist them, to talk to us, and, increasingly, to talk about us.

Canada's lawyers are increasingly recognizing that it will be far better to participate than to be left behind.

So where does one go for information on how professionals can adopt these new technologies?

To the Internet, of course.

And on that note, there are two new publications that I'd like to highlight, both of which ably break this rather daunting, new e-world down to its basic elements for easy digestion and application by lawyers and legal professionals alike:
  • Heather Morrison of CNW Group (Canada News Wire) is today releasing a comprehensive white paper on legal marketing online, Canadian Law Firms And Their Use Of Social Media. Her paper thoroughly canvasses the key social media platforms and provides much-needed context via thoughtful comments from several Canadian lawyers who are constructively engaging online. I was glad to contribute a few of my own thoughts to Ms. Morrison's article.
  • Our friend, Michael Carabash, has just launched a free e-book, Four Steps to Online Legal Marketing, at the always impressive Dynamic Lawyers site. He provides an accessible introduction to the technical elements of internet marketing, including search-engine optimization and web analytics, spoken from the perspective of the emerging generation of tech-savvy lawyers for whom the internet's commercial culture appears to be second nature.
And while I am at it, I will mention my own, related paper on this topic, delivered at the Law Society of Upper Canada's 4th Annual Solo and Small Firm Conference and Expo on May 7, 2009:

As I noted in Untangling Web 2.0,

The internet is the great equalizer for small and medium-sized law firms. In fact, with limited investment, even a fledgling law firm is able to showcase its professionals and services in the legal marketplace, and to compete worldwide on a relatively even playing field with large, well-oiled megafirms.

It is indeed a new world for professionals. Approached with appropriate caution and care, its potential benefits are many...

Is your firm ready to join the dialogue?

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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