Post #2: Creating & Maintaining the #AMLAWTweeple List

Updated: July 22, 2009

Way back in February, I published a webinar on YouTube called, “netTools 101: Web Tools Every Legal Professional Should Know.”

It’s nothing fancy. The slides are hard to see on the video. I posted them underneath… which is a less-than-satisfactory fix for following along onscreen. For anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to print them as handouts, well, my suggestion is to do it in grayscale. But, hey, it was my first YouTube video! Don’t expect Tim Burton or anything! This is web development in action.

On the video, I demonstrate an easy tool to help visualize how a person or entity presents him/her/itself on the web. Although the chart is not lawyer-specific, I had created this tool to analyze how BigLaw firms – the Am Law firms – present themselves on the web as service providers and businesses. I needed a simple way to assess the firm’s web development and this is what worked.

For each Am Law firm, I collect and compile the data required by the chart. Every “web development” I find – each blog, podcast, or Feedburner account – earns the firm one point. If a firm’s web development really impresses me, I reward them with extra credit. I calculate a firm’s “BigLaw Tech Score” by totaling its points.¹

I started this project in late February. It’s late July and I’m still not finished.

Why has it taken me so long?

Well, for one, data retrieval is time-consuming! This is true in spite of the invaluable resources I had at my disposal, e.g., Kevin O’Keefe’s State of the Am Law 200 Blogosphere, Greg Lambert’s List of Large Law Firm’s “Officially Sanctioned Blogs,” Patrick DiDomenico’s list of law firms on Twitter, or Bruce Carlton’s BigLaw Lawyers on Twitter.

The other big hurdle that I’ve encountered is that I haven’t figured out a “pretty” way to publish the scores. Posts sort of cram the information together and become quickly outdated. Plus, text documents are not the optimal solution when collecting, calculating, or comparing data. On the other hand, spreadsheets lack room for thoughtful analysis.

By late May, I was itching to find a better way to proceed with the BigLaw Tech Scores.

Enter: the #AMLAWTweeple project.3

While I brainstormed the fate of the BigLaw Tech Scores, I figured I may as well publish my research in “real time.”² Technically, the #AMLAWTweeple project is my research for one component of the BigLaw Tech Scores – the Twitter accounts at Am Law firms.4

Borrowing the open-source mentality, the #AMLAWTweeple list is public (and costs nothing!). Moreover, others are enabled and encouraged to add to it.

Precisely because of these characteristics, I thought it would be prudent of me to disclose my methodology for creating the list. I aimed:

1. to make the list of Am Law Tweeple easy to read & maintain;

2. to promote interactivity; &

3. to respect people’s privacy.

I’ll address these objectives in reverse order.

Privacy

I am not ashamed to plug my internet stalking (er, research) skills. In fact, if you want to know about my mad skills, you can ask me to help you find something – anything – on the internet.

However, please understand, as a blogger since 2004, a former legal recruiter, and former plaintiff-side employment discrimination attorney, I am extremely aware of web 2.0 privacy concerns in today’s work environment.5

Therefore, on the #AMLAWTweeple list, I decided to only include people who wanted to be found. I inferred someone wanted to be found if s/he listed the firm at which s/he worked in his/her Twitter profile; if s/he linked to his/her firm URL, or if s/he used a firm e-mail address.

How did I go about finding people – who wanted to be found – to add?

For brevity’s sake, I will refer you to Greg Lambert‘s comprehensive post on 3 Geeks and a Law Blog entitled “Competitive Intelligence in a Web 2.0 World – Part 1: Finding Company Employees on Twitter.” The post describes the type of tools that I used to find #AMLAWTweeple.

As I mentioned in the comments on Greg’s site, Tweepz.com was my favorite tool for finding #AMLAWTweeple. On Tweepz, I would search for firm domain (e.g. kslaw.com) as well as by firm name (e.g. King & Spalding).

To repeat, I only included people whose names came up in public searches such as Google, Tweepz, Twitter search, or LinkedIn.6

On the other hand, even if someone showed up in one of my searches and approached me and requested to be removed or requested that I not add them at all, I obliged.

(Note: While I mention this below, I should state here that I was less stringent when it came to adding referrals.)

Interactivity

Right, so here’s this new tool, “Twitter,” a microblog through which we can make all these new connections, a global water cooler. Nevertheless, as I looked around the blogosphere, I saw lists of Tweeple – any type of Tweeple list – compiled and published on static posts.

Hrm.

(Hey! I did it too! See: BigLaw Tech Scores.)

Anyway, I decided to see how this tool worked in action. The #AMLAWTweeple list may be published to my blog, but I also tweet my research and directly ask the #AMLAWTweeple who I find if they know anyone else with a Twitter account at their firm.

By approaching #AMLAWTweeple directly, this alerts anyone who’s included on the #AMLAWTweeple list about my project. If people would like to add accounts, they can respond to me (@mjsq) (public), DM me (private), or e-mail me (even more private). It also gives #AMLAWTweeple another chance to send me a (polite) request if they wish to be removed.

In addition to broadcasting this over Twitter, I decided to publish the list as a Google Document to show the potential of collaborative word processing tools. Through the provided form, site visitors can add accounts that I’ve missed via the form – anonymously and in real time.7

While I am less stringent about my public search requirements for word-of-mouth add-ons – mainly because I trust the legal industry’s professionalism – I always tweet updates to the list and @reply people directly.

Easy to Read & Maintain

Again, the #AMLAWTweeple project started as a method to combat the pitfalls of the BigLaw Tech Scores, as I described above.

There are many fantastic resources out there listing lawyers on Twitter, BigLaw lawyers on Twitter. There are even LinkedIn Groups for lawyers and law firms on Twitter.

The #AMLAWTweeple list is not a replacement for any of these sites. It’s my research that I’m sharing with everyone in order to encourage people to share their knowledge with me. With that said, add to it, revise it, manipulate it, comment on it, or respond to it.

And, please, please, please tell me if you want off of it.

Next post in series: The Question is not whether Am Law firms have Twitter Accounts, it’s what they can do with them. More insight into why I created the #AMLAWTweeple list. (Post #3)

This is the second post in the #AMLAWTweeple series. Be sure to read the first post in the #AMLAWTweeple Series and take a look at the #AMLAWTweeple chart.

¹ In case you don’t want to watch my video, to determine a firm’s BigLaw Tech Score, I search for Facebook groups, LinkedIn profiles and groups, Jigsaw listings, official blogs, unofficial blogs, podcasts, whether the firm offers webinars, etc.

For firms with blogs and podcasts, I also list how the firm creates the blog/podcast, how it hosts the blog/podcast, and how the firm is analyzing its visitors.

To calculate the BigLaw Tech Score, a firm receives a certain number of points for each element that adds to its web presence.

I’d like to emphasize that all of the information that I find is available in Google searches or by interpreting a firm website’s source code.

² While I present the information in the BigLaw Tech Scores by firm, I compile the information by component. (E.g., I look up all Facebook profiles at once, I look up all LinkedIn profiles at once.)

³ I tag all relevant tweets with the hashtag #AMLAWTweeple. In Twitter, people can click on the #AMLAWTweeple link to view all tagged tweets.

4In the third post in this series, I’ll talk in more detail about what I think Am Law firms can gain from being on Twitter.

5In fact, all writers on my other website – http://nonpretentious.com – publish under pseudonyms. This way, writers have total control over how and to whom they reveal their online identities. They can learn to write for the web without worrying who is reading their material.

6 Again, I emphasize this as a warning and a disclaimer because these searches are easy for anyone to duplicate.

7 The Twitter names show up in real time. I edit the submissions and link ‘em back to Twitter.

Web Development at Dorsey & Whitney

Ways to Contact Dorsey & Whitney on the Web:

(phone) by office (+1)

(e-mail) last name dot first name at dorsey dot com (+1) (this varies by professional so users should look up individuals on the website)

(home page) http://www.dorsey.com (+1)

How Dorsey Interacts On the Web:

(profiles)

LinkedIn (Group: LinkedIn alumni group for former Dorseyites) (+2)

- Facebook (Groups:  Dorsey & Whitney) (+1)

Jigsaw (+1)

Martindale (+1)

(blog)

Official blogs -

Quirky Employment Questions is a well-thought out blog that Dorsey publishes.   While it’s mostly maintained by Roy Ginsburg, employment attorneys from each of Dorsey’s West Coast offices chime in about once per month.  (+1)

Dorsey’s Consumer Products Law is a baby in blogging years.  Started in February 2009, the blog is maintained by Mark Kaster (Partner) and Nena Street (Associate).  (+1)

Twitter -

Dorsey is definitely pro-Twitter.  Nevertheless, the firm does not have too many accounts.

Here’s who we found:

Jan Rivers, the firm’s Competitive Intelligence Liasion, tweets @jriversmn. (+1)

Nena Street, one of the firm’s bloggers, tweets @NenaStreet.  (+1)

Nick Akerman, a true tech-evangelist (see: podcast section below), tweets @nickakerman. (+1)

Unfortunately it seems like the blog is enough because Quirky Employment Questions does not have a Twitter account.

Dorsey has also shown that it is Twitter-friendly through its recent hosting of Twitter Success in Seattle.  (+1)

(podcast)

Official podcasts – Nick Akerman publishes a podcast on iTunes about cyber crime.  (+1)

Official webinars – The firm hosts webinars, which are searchable on the firm’s website.  (+1)

How Dorsey Interacts With the Web:

(creation)

- Quirky Employment Questions and Consumer Products Law Blog are created using a CMS-platform that may be customized for the firm.  (+2)

(interpretation)

- Quirky Employment Questions and Consumer Products Law Blog do not use any other third-party analytics tool such as sitemeter or google analytics.  In addition, neither blog uses feedburner to track feed subscriptions.

The sites, most likely, use the analytics provided by the hosting server.  (+2)

(domain/hosting)

- It seems that Quirky Employment Questions and Consumer Products Law Blog are hosted on Dorsey’s server though both sites are published to vanity URLs.  (+2)

BigLaw Tech Score: 21 points

For an explanation of the BigLaw Tech Score, see this post.

Web Development at Dickstein Shapiro

Ways to Contact Dickstein Shapiro on the Web:

(phone) by office (+1)

(e-mail) last name first initial at dicksteinshapiro dot com (+1) (this varies by professional so users should look up individuals on the website)

(home page) http://www.dicksteinshapiro.com/ (+1)

How Dickstein Interacts On the Web:

(profiles)

- LinkedIn (+1)

- Facebook (Groups: Summer associates 2009 , Dickstein Shapiro Summer Associates 2008 , Dickstein Shapiro Summer Associates New York City 2009 )

Dickstein must let lawyers have profiles on social networking sites unlike some other firms we know! (+5)

- Jigsaw (+1)

- Martindale (+1)

(blog)

Official blogs – While we did not find any firm sponsored blogs, we did find Corporate Insurance Blog , which is maintained by Dickstein Shapiro Counsel Scott Godes .  (+1)

Twitter – Again, we failed to find a firm-wide Dickstein Shapiro Twitter account but we are now following Scott Goddes tweets .  (+1)

(podcast)

Official podcasts – n/a

Official webinars – n/a

The events are a little harder to search because there is no specific search for webinar or podcast but there is a general search on the events page.

How Dickstein Shapiro Interacts With the Web:

(creation)

- Corporate Insurance Blog is created using WordPress. (+1)

(interpretation)

- Corporate Insurance Blog tracks site visits through WordPress Stats .  The site also utilizes Quantcast to measure and analyze traffic.  This is a new tool for us so we’ll be sure to thank Scott later for the introduction.

The site does not use any other third-party analytics tool such as sitemeter or google analytics .  In addition, the blog does not use feedburner to track feed subscriptions.

(domain/hosting)

- Corporate Insurance Blog is hosted on WordPress.com though it is published on a vanity url. (+1)

BigLaw Tech Score: 17 points

For an explanation of the BigLaw Tech Score, see this post .

Web Development at DLA Piper

Ways to Contact DLA Piper on the Web:

(phone) by office (+1)

(e-mail)first name dot last name at dlapiper dot com  (+1) (this varies by professional so users should look up individuals on the website)

(home page) http://www.dlapiper.com (+1)

How DLA Piper Interacts On the Web:

(profiles)

- LinkedIn (+1)

- Facebook (Group) (+1)

- Jigsaw (+1)

- Martindale (+1)

(blog)

Official blogs – I went back and forth deciding whether DLA Piper Technology Leaders Summit Blog should count as an official firm blog, especially because it was last published over six months ago (October 2008).  I decided to give it to DLA Piper.  Why?  Well, the firm’s logo is proudly positioned on the blog and it’s a forward-thinking use of blogging technology.  Actually, for that, DLA Piper deserves an extra point.  (+2)

DLA Piper created this blog for its technology summit that occurred in October 2008 (further details).

Twitter – We found a DLA Piper Twitter account that has not been updated.  We’re not even sure if DLA Piper owns the account.  (+0)

[January 24, 2010 UPDATE:  Now there are many DLA Twitter accounts, e.g., this one, but they did not exist when we calculated DLA's score.  To see an ongoing list of DLA Piper's Twitter accounts, please refer to our Am Law Tweeple post.]

(podcast)

Official podcasts – DLA Piper does have a few podcasts available for download.  Most recently, this 2009 seminar is available for download here. (+2!!!)

We found these by searching Google for “DLA Piper podcasts.”  You could also search for “podcast” on DLA Piper’s website.

Official webinars – The firm does host webinars (e.g. this ediscovery webinar from April 2009 entitled, “Designing, Implementing, Maintaining and Releasing Litigation Holds” (whitepaper also available for download)). (+2!!!!)

These are found by searching for the word “webinar” in the event section of the firm’s website.  (They are sorta hard to find but I was so proud of the topics, I decided to give the firm 2 points!)

How DLA Interacts With the Web:

(creation)

- DLA Piper Technology Leaders Summit Blog is created using Google’s Blogger.  (+1)

- The mp3s offered are mostly recordings of webinars or events.  Therefore, they were mostly recorded by 3rd parties such as BrightTalk.  (+1)

(interpretation)

- DLA Piper Technology Leaders Summit Blog tracks visits with Google Analytics. However, the blog does not use feedburner to track feed subscriptions. (+1)

- BrightTalk offers presenters and channel owners an array of tracking and analytics services.  (+1)

(domain/hosting)

- DLA Piper Technology Leaders Summit Blog is hosted by Blogger and is redirected to the vanity url http://www.dlatechlaw.com/. (+1)

- The mp3s were hosted on a 3rd party system – mostly, BrightTalk. (+1)

BigLaw Tech Score: 19 points

For an explanation of the BigLaw Tech Score, see this post.

BigLaw Tech Score Analysis Will Be Served Like Tapas

In today’s world, people (myself included) prefer to digest information in tapas form – small portions that encourage conversation.

As the number of my BigLaw Tech Scores grew, I started to doubt my ability to serve "tapas" when the time came to analyze all 100 of them.

Since March, I’ve only researched the web presence of 25 of the top 100 firms and, quite honestly, I’m already scratching my head as to what type of analysis I promised.   What even prompted this exercise?!?

Thankfully, I had a YouTube video to watch¹ to refresh my memory and to renew my purpose: To "dissect how the world’s top law firms manipulate the web to faciliate the practice of law."

Therefore, I decided to divide my analysis of the BigLaw Tech Score into four parts (mostly to keep my own attention).  Each part will relate to the others in terms of theory and analysis but I will focus the discussion to the 25 firm about which I most recently researched.

Like any other story unfolded in segments (e.g. network television shows, the Terminator series, comic books), my job will be to entertain you and provide insightful information in each part.  If I do my job correctly, you will also appreciate the final, cohesive analysis (and, most likely, stand in line, dressed like Darth Vadar, once I announce the prequel).

– read. like. support. –

The Art of Refreshment with Mighty Leaf Iced Tea

– read. like. support. –

¹  At the beginning of the YouTube video, I admit that web development is constantly changing and anything I say could be outdated within days.  Next, I create a table for viewers to use to analyze their own web presence.  I go through the table and its categories while filling in data about my web presence.  Ironically, three months later, this data is outdated.

NOTE: I corrected most of the links that were still funky due to the WordPress-to-Joomla move.

Life without social media. Gotta love it. (Sarcasm intended.)