Jonathan Fitzgerrald, CMO, Greenberg Glusker (Bad for the Brand and so much more) and I sat down yesterday to discuss our upcoming Webinar Best of the Web for Professional Development. Of course, a Vente iced-coffee propelled us off topic now and again, and at one point we started ranting about legal marketers (none of whom are reading this, so we were not talking about you, in general or specifically) who REFUSE to learn or participate in social media, and are clueless about legal (business) technology in general:

  • I don’t get it.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I’m too private.
  • That doesn’t apply to me.
  • I like to keep my work and private life separate.

Get over it. You don’t have the luxury of remaining clueless much longer. If the lawyers need to know and understand this “stuff,” so do we. An article in today’s, Are Proposed Changes to ABA Ethics Rules Too Little, Too Late? (free subscription),  includes a whole nifty section on how lawyers “must be technologically competent.”

The commission has proposed that “Comment 6” be revised to read: “To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject.” (Changes noted with italics.) These additional words are a game changer. In a surprising statement, the commission stated that “this obligation is not new. Rather, the proposed amendment emphasizes that a lawyer should remain aware of technology, including the benefits and risks associated with it, as part of a lawyer’s general ethical duty to remain competent in a digital age.” (emphasis added)

There you go folks. The pre-season for social media and technology is over and game is on. If lawyers are operating in a cloud, using Dropbox on their iPads, opererating in a virtual environment, communciating and blogging digitally and remotely, than you must understand how this works. Period. You don’t need to be fluent in tech and social media, but you need to be conversant and knowledgeable. This is not something you can downsource to a recent college grad sitting in a cubicle. And it’s not just about doing a good job at your firm right now. It’s about your next job and your career in general. Just like you need to know and understand how to use Word and Excel as a basic tool, you need to understand and know how to use Twitter and LinkedIn, at least in their simplest forms. Not to mention how groups, lists, and hashtags really make these applications soar. How are blogs being used? And what is an RSS feed? And why do people care so much about keywords, tagging and hyperlinks? I could go on and on, but I’m just preaching to the choir here.