The Internet is for All Lawyers
Ask the person in the street, “What does a lawyer do?” and the answers will vary from “argues in court” to “writes wills or contracts.” Hollywood portrays lawyers as advocates standing in a courtroom zealously seeking justice for their clients. Think of “To Kill a Mockingbird, My Cousin Vinny, or Miracle on 34th Street”—filmed in 1947 and resurrected every Holiday season.
And it’s true that many lawyers—trained to analyze facts, frame issues, advocate both in a written and oral format—do argue in court or draft documents. Courtrooms, however, while the most dramatic of legal battlegrounds, aren’t the only places lawyers can be found.
Lawyers use their skills in the following establishments:
- Government—federal, state, and local
- Judiciary—judge, magistrate, clerk
- Public Interest
- Corporations—house counsel
- Legal Publishing
And some stray even further from the traditional practice of law and become consultants, musicians, human resource administrators, journalists, non-profit managers, and entrepreneurs.
Do these lawyers need a profile on a legal directory or a website?
The simple answer is “yes.”
An online presence in the form of a profile in a legal directory or a stop on the social media thoroughfare is as necessary for them as it is for lawyers working as solos or in a law firm. It isn’t only consumers who search for lawyers on the web; other lawyers also read those profiles. You 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 or text or, perhaps, a short telephone call. Those associations can be as strong and as important to your career as ones established face-to-face at networking functions.
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. Lawyers can use the knowledge gained in other fields to make a career change. Legal publishing experience, for example, could lead to consulting on copyright and drafting contracts with agents and publishers. Managing an international non-profit would be helpful if you wanted to practice in international law. Entrepreneurs such as Yale Law grads, Nina and Tim Zagut who cofounded Zagut Survey which rates restaurants, could sell their highly successful business and establish or work for a business-oriented law firm.
These movements from traditional to non-traditional legal careers and back again will only be successful if the world knows that you’re out there. And the easiest and least costly 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 as well as market your practice to potential clients.
A legal career, whether traditional or non-traditional, can last 20, 30, 40, or more years. 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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