Tuesday Shorts: 2/12/08

I was particularly interested in Closed Networks & the Problem with Facebook by Steven Matthews.  An excerpt:

This month’s edition of Web Law Connected could be seen as a bit of a rant, but the honest intent here is to explore the underlying marketing value offered to lawyers by what has become the 800-pound gorilla of social networks – Facebook.

It’s difficult to refute the fact that Facebook is the fastest growing entity on the web today, and the adoption rate within the legal community has been no different than that of any other group within the Facebook walls – it’s expanding, and fast. While some law firms are guarding business productivity by blocking access, we’ve also observed firms who see this latest gathering spot as an opportunity to expand their online presence. It should be noted, anytime we find legitimate communities and discussion on the web, the chances are good that individuals looking for business development opportunities will soon follow.

However, the bigger issue for me goes beyond the website blocking debate, or whether there is a legitimate business community here that can be marketed to. But rather, if we compare the relative value of Facebook to all the varying forms of web marketing out there, is it a good use of a lawyer’s online marketing time?

After a lot of consideration, and my opinion wavering, I’ve concluded that Facebook is a low quality marketing investment. And above all the positive aspects this service offers, the deciding negative factor was the closed nature of its network.

And your thought some of your clients were, uh, challenging.  I am fortunate to work with amazing clients now, but I remember a few clients from my days in full-time practice who could ruin a day simply by calling.  But who’s to say what separates a difficult client from the stereotypical “client from hell”?  Robert Sutton, author of the award-winning book The No Asshole Rule and the terrific Work Matters blog, has created the ACHE (Asshole Client from Hell Exam) to answer just that question.  Bob writes:

You can use it to help decide if it is worth continuing to work with a current client or if you want to charge them “asshole taxes.” You can use it as an “asshole screen” for future clients – send it to others who have worked with them to find out if they are a client from hell.  And if you are a client, and feel like most lawyers, management consultant, designers, accountants, and IT consultants that you hire are complete idiots,  you find yourself being gruff with them, and you find that fewer and fewer of them want to work with you –- and those that do keep raising their rates beyond reason –- you might take the ACHE as a self-test.  And you might get some of the people you’ve worked with to complete the ACHE to get some feedback about what it is like to work with you (if they feel safe enough to give you accurate feedback – you may have unwittingly taught them to only give you good news).

In case you need another reason to take care with email addresses: The story has already made the rounds, but as cautionary tales go, it can’t be beat.  The New York Times broke the story earlier this month that Eli Lilly was in settlement talks concerning alleged marketing improprieties of the drug Zyprexa.  Apparently a Pepper Hamilton lawyer representing Lilly emailed a package of confidential documents, thinking she was sending them to co-counsel Bradford Berenson when in fact she emailed them to NY Times journalist Alex Berenson.  Visit the WSJ Law Blog for the full, chilling story.  Just another reminder to treat “auto-address” email features as anathema.

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