CANSFORD LABS

Twitter as a platform for (family) law

John Bolch

John Bolch

on Jun 7, 2023

Informative, funny,  and at times cringe-worthy, family law blogger John Bolch examines Twitter and family law in more detail in his latest exclusive blog. The Family Law Twitter-verse (and its more professional cousin LinkedIn) is a great example of how we can make great connections with our peers online and sometimes in the 'real world' (or perhaps not...) 

It was interesting to see Cansford Laboratories set up a new Twitter account (@cansford_labs) last month, even if they can hardly be said to be new to the platform.

And this got me thinking about the usefulness (or otherwise!) of Twitter for family lawyers, or indeed those with an interest in family law (much of what follows actually applies to all areas of law, but I can only speak directly for family law).

As a Twitter veteran of fifteen years, the platform has certainly been very useful to me, in particular as a tool to get my blog content ‘out there’.

During those fifteen years Twitter has of course seen many changes. And I am not just speaking of the questionable events since its recent takeover.

When I began tweeting there were very few lawyers on Twitter, and those that were formed a small but friendly community, often indulging in frivolity, and even having the occasional ‘Tweetup’ when (heaven forbid) they actually met in the real world.

But those days are long gone as, unfortunately, are many of the original legal tweeters. Legal Twitter has, generally, become a more serious place, and is certainly now an important showcase for legal expertise.

This can obviously be beneficial for legal businesses, but it is not all good news.

The good..

I think this can perhaps best be illustrated by a recent exchange I witnessed on Twitter.

I use one of my Twitter accounts to tweet links to family law news stories and recently published cases. And sometimes very distinguished family lawyers, possessing far greater expertise than I could muster, come on and comment upon my tweets.

A regular commenter upon the cases I mention is a leading international lawyer, arbitrator, mediator and Deputy District Judge (to mention just a few of his achievements). A comment of his on a recent case I tweeted prompted a response from a fellow lawyer, thanking him for his generosity in diffusing his knowledge.

That tweet, in turn, prompted the following response from the international lawyer that I think says a lot about the good things that Twitter can do:

“You are far too kind. We all learn from others sharing, and you and I have been fortunate to be massive recipients throughout our careers. In our present time, so many more opportunities for us all to learn and share via social media (when used positively).”

The bad..

As mentioned above, Twitter can be excellent as a showcase for legal expertise (and thereby to attract business), but some care is required. One of the problems is that Twitter is so quick and easy to use.

But we have all tweeted in haste, only to repent at leisure (tweets can be deleted, but sometimes the damage will already be done).

I won’t embarrass anyone by mentioning specific tweets, but an example of a common error (and a personal bête noire) is the use of images of gavels in tweets.

As any lawyer in England or Wales will know, gavels are not used by our courts. Using a gavel in a tweet is not therefore an example of expertise, but rather of a lack thereof (there is even a Twitter account devoted to ‘outing’ the users of ‘inappropriate gavels’).

The ugly..

Twitter is, of course, a place for public discourse, but sometimes its accessibility can be abused.

As all family lawyers will be well aware there are many people out there who have a dim view of family lawyers, and of the family justice system in general.

There is, of course, not necessarily anything wrong with that. Everyone is entitled their view, and the family justice system is certainly not perfect - a reasonable dialogue can be very helpful in bringing problems to light.

The difficulty, however, is that the dialogue is not always reasonable.

There are some, for example, who are implacably convinced that the system is corrupt, biased in favour of mothers/fathers/whoever, or designed solely to fleece clients of their money.

And there may be others who simply have an axe to grind against you or your business, for example disgruntled former clients, or the other party, with whom your client is in dispute.

Such people may hijack Twitter discussions, so that it is no longer beneficial (and may even be detrimental) for your business to be a party.

Of course, Twitter does offer remedies, such as leaving conversations, muting or even blocking certain parties. You could also restrict who is allowed to respond to a tweet, but then of course you miss out on the potential benefits of interaction, i.e. expanding the reach of the tweet.

But all of this does, of course, require regular oversight of your Twitter account.

In short, Twitter can be a great asset to family lawyers, or to anyone with an interest in family law, but it does come at a cost.

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Video credit: https://www.pexels.com/video/edited-video-of-browsing-website-with-smartphone-854545/

John Bolch

John Bolch

John Bolch is well-known as one of the UK’s leading family law bloggers. He gave up practising in 2009 and now works freelance as a writer on family law matters.

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