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David Rosen on being ready to use social media

Tim Gibbon (Social Media Portal (SMP)) - 08 January 2014

Social Media Portal (SMP) interview with David Rosen from Darlington Solicitors

David Rosen from Darlington Solicitors on how businesses need to be prepared when using digital and social media

Darlingtons Solicitors logoSocial Media Portal (SMP): What is your name and what do you do there at Darlingtons Solicitors?

David Rosen (DR): My name is David Rosen, I am a partner and head of litigation at Darlingtons.

SMP: Briefly, tell us about Darlingtons Solicitors (for those that donít know), what is it and what does firm do?

DR: Darlingtons is a law firm with offices in north west London and central London. We have a team of 20 lawyers and support staff.  Our client base covers business of all types and sizes, entrepreneurs, property investors and many individual clients.

Departmentally we have a property law team, litigation team, private client, commercial law and employment law.

SMP: When was the firm founded and why the partners decide to start a law firm?

DR: The firm in its current form has been around since 1999. The senior team were previously in larger practices in the west end and decided we could provide better services and a better ethos for clients by setting up ourselves. Decision-making and politics in larger firms were also a factor!

SMP: Why arenít some other law firms getting it right or are far behind?

DR: There are many great law firms, but there are still many law firms that donít believe marketing and client communication are vital. Others seem to think itís sufficient to just copy competitors. We knew that online communication; marketing, technology and creating a brand and a voice would be vital for law firms, so prioritised this five years ago. Weíre delighted we did.

SMP: Who are your target audience, why and what sort of clients do you represent?

DR: Our target audience is diverse.  It includes not only buyers of legal services, but also other lawyers, other professionals, students and those looking for information, who are not necessarily immediate buyers. Our clients are also very diverse, from large businesses through to start-ups and local clients for conveyancing or wills and probate.

SMP: What are the challenges that you encountered and how are you overcoming them in what you have been doing so far at Darlington Solicitors?

Photograph of David Rosen, partner and head of litigation at Darlingtons SolicitorsDR: The challenge with marketing is to build it into a lawyerís busy timetable, because itís crucial to commit to regular activity and to strike a balance between being creative and at the same time being professional.

SMP: What are the high moments of what you have been doing so far?

DR: Itís fantastic when we get enquiries or contact from new clients, sometimes abroad, sometimes in very niche areas such as my own specialism in fraud. They make it clear that they have noticed us online and read our content and like what they see. Thatís very rewarding.

SMP: What are the main social channels are you using, why and which are the most effective for Darlingtons Solicitors?

DR: We primarily use Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. All of them have proved successful. Personally, I love using Twitter, it doesnít necessarily directly lead to work, but people see my personality and approach and I have developed some great contacts on Twitter.

SMP: What sort of activity / engagement are you receiving across the social channels that you use and how do you create / sustain this?

DR: LinkedIn is best for direct work enquiries. Our website generates a lot of enquiries and is visible on Google. Our social media activity backs up the high quality and engaging content we produce on our website and leads potential clients to conclude, I believe, that we are dynamic, expert and approachable. Website without good social interaction doesnít work, good social without great website content doesnít work well. Thatís our experience.

SMP: What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for business in regards to digital and social media?

DR: To stand out from the crowd and the ever increasing ďnoiseĒ, to understand that clients are looking for solutions online now, not just advice and to gravitate more from the written word (always the lawyers first port of call) to multimedia, especially video Ė people want to see and hear a lawyer now before they decide to pick up the phone or email.

SMP: Whatís going to be the most interesting aspect regarding social media, social networks and/or technology for the next 12 to 18-months and why?

DR: Lawyers are slow to adapt and embrace change. The biggest challenges for us are simply to keep up with the sheer pace of change, to stay ahead of our competitors and to ensure that every member of pour team embraces social media. It is no longer enough to just have a business profile and one or two active individuals. All staff need to recognise this.

Darlingtons Solicitors website image

SMP: What do companiesí owners need to do in order to protect their businesses from a legal perspective?

DR: The biggest mistake we see is a paperwork approach. Businesses think if they have social media policies or clauses in employment contracts, thatís enough. Companies must stay vigilant, and actively monitor, review and educate staff about social media and technology. Donít just use lawyers when things go wrong, use lawyers as part of your ongoing risk management.

SMP: What are your top five predictions for social media for the next 12 to 18-months?

DR replies with:

1. Quality over quantity.  People will be more selective about who they engage with.
2. Facebook to be less influential except for retail brands.  In our experience it isnít a good channel for lawyers
3. The legal position on social media activity to continue to be confusing.  The law simply cannot keep up with the internet generally or social media in particular
4. More paid advertising on Twitter
5. I will get more direct enquiries on Twitter!

SMP: What are your top five social media tips for businesses to stay on the right side of the law?

DR: replies with:

1. Ensure you have policies and procedures on social media use
2. Monitor and enforce your policies
3. Be aware of the potential conflict between the need to monitor staff activity and their right to privacy
4. Consider and address the issue of who owns social media accounts
5. Ensure that staff has separate social media accounts for business and personal use

Now some questions for fun

SMP: What did you have for breakfast / lunch?

DR: Egg and toast, with hot chocolate and orange juice.

SMP: Whatís the last good thing that you did for someone?

DR: I took someone selling the Big Issue (a magazine sold by homeless people), for a coffee. It was cold and wet, and people were ignoring him. He looked degraded, and dehumanised. That is not a way to treat anyone is it?

SMP: If you werenít working at Darlingtons Solicitors what would you be doing?

DR: I would happily become a full-time academic and lecture in law at university.

SMP: When and where did you go on your last holiday?

DR: I last went on holiday in August 2013, to Spain with my wife and four children.

SMP: What was one of the major social media related legal cases / situations for you in 2013 and why?

DR: I was involved in advising someone, relating to a Troll, who took their argument beyond social media, and started contacting the victim's place of work, friends, and family. The matter was dealt with swiftly. It was particularly significant because social media is young. Etiquette is forming, and in these early 'Wild West' days, the Law is slowly but surely catching up, with amendments to the Defamation Act late last year.

SMP: Whatís the first thing you do when you get into the office of a morning?

DR: The first thing I do, when I get into the office in the morning, is to check my social media pages, before emails or post. It is very addictive.

SMP: If you had a superpower what would it be and why?

DR: A superpower? The power to turn people into turnips, especially aggressive people who have a misconceived perception of importance, with nothing much to say, who wish to air their meaningless issues to the world, whether they want to hear them, or not.

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