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Using social media in family law

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The Law Society’s Family Section Advisory Group member Tony Roe gives his take on using social media in family law 

I was fortunate enough to be asked to be a panel member at the recent Law Society’s Family Section and Women Lawyers Division event, entitled #getseriouswithsocialmedia. I was there to learn both from my fellow speakers and the audience, and I did.

In some ways, the event was a reverse ‘tweetup’ – a ‘tweetup’ is where members of the ‘twitterati’ meet in person. Amongst the 60 strong audience, there were folk who had never been on Twitter, but who are now avid users, and whom I follow.

But social media is not just about Twitter. The most popular for business purposes is probably LinkedIn, although many members rarely alter or expand their profiles unless they are moving firms.

The Law Society itself operates four social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. It has its own social media officer too. It has been quite instructive to see how well it has used them, including in its recent consumer campaign.

As for my own social media use, whenever I receive a new enquiry, I find it useful to look up the individual on LinkedIn; the potential new client realises that I have taken an interest in them, and it’s helpful for providing some background on them too. Of course, to avoid breaching confidentiality, I stop short of looking up their opponent unless I anonymise my search, otherwise, they are likely to learn that their other half has consulted a solicitor. For the same reason, I will not connect with clients on LinkedIn, although if they invite me to connect with them, that may be a different matter. The Law Society’s Social Media Practice Note is worth reading for guidance on various issues. 

You have to earn attention on social media by giving something valuable to your audience

Most people see social media in a marketing sense. Sure, it’s great for that, but use it properly. Some users might tweet, “Come to us for divorce” – you are not a virtual costermonger, and this approach is a good way to get ignored. As one ‘super user’ said at the seminar, you have to earn attention on social media by giving something valuable to your audience.

There’s plenty of scope for conversation and engagement on social media, too; I was looking for a new judgment, couldn’t find it, and put out a Twitter appeal. Soon others got involved. I was not the only one who was after it and, when I got it, I made sure others had it too. So comment, reply and retweet.

Social media is immediate. You know what is happening in family law land when it happens, without having to wait for a publication, seminar or even email update. It can be too immediate, though; deleting something you did not mean to send can be difficult. There are plenty of apps which can delay the tweet, just as there are ones which can manage how and when your content appears.

You have to feel comfortable with social media and the particular type you use. Your personality can and should come through, so there’s no point in delegating tweeting to the marketing team. Who’s the family law expert, them or you?

Another social media seminar is planned for the future. See you there and, hopefully, on Twitter too!

Twitter: @tonyroedivorce; @roearbitration


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