Twitter For Lawyers
The law student experience
Back in March this year, I read a 138 character long tweet by @lawbore in which she advertised a position at a well-known NGO. I asked whether I could apply and once I had a confirmation from her I sent a letter of interest. I got that position after four working days.
This is an article on how being an active tweeter can help you enhance your CV, learn practical things about your future profession, and establish good contacts.
I opened a Twitter account in early September 2010, to mark the start of my first internship and to keep a track of most, if not all, tasks I would be assigned to do. As much as I enjoy ink and paper, I thought that sharing my experience with those who have had already entered the career or are about to embark on a similar path could provide me with some support and could serve as an example, respectively. Having been a Facebook user for a while by then, I knew that it was not serious enough for this; while blogging wasn’t an option as I was working long hours and wanted my writing to be concise yet frequent. Twitter seemed to satisfy my criteria.
Is it difficult?
Opening an account was easy - by the end of my three week internship I was following over twenty people, vast majority of which were related to the legal world (undergraduate and postgraduate students, lawyers, blawgers, journalists and editors of legal magazines), and tweeting had then become a habit I was not intending to give up.
I continued tweeting throughout the academic year and as I look back I start to understand how much support I had from the followers on matters that at the time seemed trivial. There is common misconception among non-tweeters that the answer to “What’s happening?” is almost always “Drinking coffee at X” or “Having lunch at Y”. Which is untrue — unless of course that is all you do on daily basis, then expect to be followed by fellow gourmets.
As days pass and you develop a habit of tweeting and sharing highlights of your day, your tweets will vary, you will start sharing your opinion on the articles read and often might end up debating till dawn with your followers. If you keep a close eye on the developments in the legal world, or at least follow the news, then you would have noticed that unlike other microblogging sites Twitter is becoming more and more popular in the legal world. In December 2010 the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, issued some interim practice guidance on Twitter, allowing its use in English and Welsh courts (at the discretion of trial judges) after journalists used Twitter at the bail hearing of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to give live updates. You might as well remember Twitter joke trial, when Paul Chambers was convicted of 'menace' for sending a joke tweet about blowing up an airport, and #IAmSpartacus campaign where thousands of tweeters repeated the bombing joke in his support.
What do I love about twitter?
- a) It allows me to retain anonymity (*twitter name in picture above is not her real one!)
- b) Gives a unique insight into the life of people I follow;
- c) Is simple and user-friendly.
However, you have to keep in mind that it is a social network and it will suck you in! The amount of information it pushes out is phenomenal. Therefore, my advice to you would be to set a purpose for your account and try to follow people within one particular sphere of interest (i.e. Law or Politics) to manage the flow of information better and to save time.
What makes Twitter useful for law students?
1. Who is hiding beneath the wig?
Or spends their days at a Magic Circle firm? Through Twitter I came to realise that it is all far less perfect, or shall I say organised, than legal magazines try to present. Twitter allows you to have a unique insight into the lives of people you soon will be working along with.
2. Their blog:
You would be surprised to know how many lawyers blog and share their blogs through twitter. The themes differ from blog to blog but most are connected to their daily job or area of law they specialise – this helps you to understand what it is like to be to be doing a training contract in Leeds or being an in-house in London. Here are some of my favourite tweeters (and their blogs): @LegalBizzle; @Miss_TS_tweets; @UKLegalEagle; @legalbrat
3. Read what they read
With most online newspapers and news websites providing an option of sharing their articles your timeline will often be filled with links to articles (mostly in the early hours of the day) followed by tweets expressing opinion on them. With twitter there is absolutely no way you miss out on an important story or an interesting case.
4. The Golden Rule: Engage and Get Noticed
Do not hesitate to express your opinion - you do not even need to know all those involved in the discussion for that. Remember to re-tweet if you share their enthusiasm or support the cause. Also, if you have enjoyed their blog post either tweet them or comment using your twitter name/alias - they will be flattered.
5. Look out for opportunities
If you have established good relations with one of the barristers you follow and they mention ‘an interesting case next month’ feel free to ask about a mini pupillage. If the position has already been taken do not give up. To make sure they keep you in mind ask them again after a while - in the meantime tweet them from time-to-time. Most importantly, read your timeline thoroughly to make sure you do not miss out on any tweets with job offers.
6. Your blog
If you are an aspiring blogger, Twitter is a perfect way to share your writing and get recognition. Hint: Add the link to your to Bio section. Why should you blog? Top 5 reasons why on Pupillage Blog.
7. Need help? Just tweet!
It is incredible how helpful and supportive your followers can be. If you have established good relations with them (see point 4) they might even offer to check your mock exam and assist with exam revision, not to mention support through deployment.
Do keep in mind that above all the site is used for relaxation and entertainment (especially by those stuck at the office on a Sunday), so do not forget to share silly as well as funny and happy moments and photos.
For more on Twitter for Lawyers, see the post on the Lawbore blog, Future Lawyer.
Dilara Alibayova is an LLB student at City University who has been working at Reprieve since May 2011. Thanks to @lawbore who tweeted about the vacancy.