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Lawyers in private practice:
John Boscariol, McCarthy Tétrault LLP, Toronto. Twitter: @tradelawyer
David Canton, Harrison Pensa LLP, London Ont. Twitter: @davidcanton
Caroline Clapham, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Vancouver. Twitter: @carolineclapham
Michael Fitzgibbon, Watershed LLP, Oakville, Ont. Twitter: @managementlaw
David Fraser, McInnes Cooper LLP, Halifax. Twitter: @privacylawyer
Nicole Garton-Jones, Heritage Law Group, Vancouver. Twitter: @ngartonjones
Omar Ha-Redeye, Barister & Solicitor, Toronto. Twitter: @omarharedeye
Rob Hyndman, Hyndman Law, Toronto. Twitter: @rhh
Erik Magraken, MacIssac & Co., Victoria. Twitter: @erikmagraken
Stuart Rudner, Miller Thomson, Toronto. Twitter: @CanadianHRLaw
Barry Sookman, McCarthy Tétrault, Toronto. Twitter: @bsookman
Garry Wise, Wise Law Group, Toronto. Twitter: @wiselaw
Not Lawyers in private practice:
David Bilinsky, Law Society of B.C., Vancouver. Twitter: @David_Bilinsky
Colin Cameron, Profits for Partners Management Consulting, Vancouver. Twitter: @colincameron
Samantha Collier, MBM Intellectual Property Law, Vancouver. Twitter: @samtaracollier
Connie Crosby, Crosby Group Consulting, Toronto. Twitter: @crosbygroup
David Eby, B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Vancouver. Twitter: @Dave_Eby
Simon Fodden, Slaw.ca, Toronto. Twitter: @fodden
Michael Geist, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa. Twitter: @mgeist
Dominic Jaar, KPMG, Montreal. Twitter: @dominicjaar
Steve Matthews, Stem Legal Web Enterprises, Vancouver. Twitter: @stevematthews
Shaunna Mireau, Field LLP, Edmonton. Twitter: @smireau
Dan Pinnington, LawPRO, Toronto. Twitter: @danpinnington
David Whelan, Law Society of Upper Canada, Toronto.Twitter: @davidpwhelan
How the 24 were chosen
In case there’s anyone out there who still believes that social media in the law was a fad, it’s time to put that myth to rest. Today, the Canadian legal profession features more than 300 blogs (check them out at www.lawblogs.ca), hundreds if not thousands of Twitter users, and probably well over 10,000 LinkedIn users, virtually all of them using these vehicles for business. Almost every large law firm in Canada (and scores of smaller ones) have their own Twitter accounts. And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s happening on Facebook or Google+.
With so many participants in this now-emergent field, it’s natural to ask: who are the leaders? Where should we turn to find the most important and influential social media users in the profession, the trailblazers who aren’t just on social media, but who are using it to make an impact on lawyers and the legal profession worldwide? As two regular columnists here at The Lawyer Weekly, we found ourselves curious about that too. So we decided to find out who were the most influential users of social media in the Canadian legal profession. To do this, we started with a very large group of bloggers, tweeters and other social media users well known to the online legal community. (Although we’re both very active in social media ourselves, we decided it would be appropriate to exclude ourselves from the list.)
From there, we applied a series of criteria, some based on metrics and others not:
- Whether the person blogs, and if so, for how long s/he has been blogging, how widely read the blog is and how well it scores on measures such as Google’s PageRank.
- Whether the person is on Twitter, and if so, how much they’ve tweeted, how often they tweet and what their followers-to-follows ratio is (the higher, the better).
- What the person’s Klout score is, a measure based on a Twitter account’s frequency, reach and influence.
- Our own sense of the impact the person has had and continues to have through social media on the Canadian legal profession.
Applying those criteria, we came up with two lists of 12 influencers each, for a total of 24. We divided the group into lawyers in private practice with law firms and, well, everyone else. We’ve listed their names alphabetically, although there are a few outliers whose impact is so huge they require special mention.
Here are a few observations about the finalists.
- Among law firm influencers, we were happy to see such a wide range of firms, from international giants like McCarthy Tétrault LLP and Miller Thomson LLP to regional firms like Harrison Pensa and McInnes Cooper, to smaller firms like MacIsaac & Co. and the Wise Law Group. This finding reinforced our belief that you can be a social media leader no matter what size of firm you practice in.
- In the other chart, we were struck by the heavy concentration (five of 12 finalists) from British Columbia; if you add Shauna Mireau in Edmonton, fully half the list hails from the west. Again, we saw a diverse mix of backgrounds, from law professors to consultants to knowledge managers to law society personnel, underlining the wide range of social media participation across the country.
- All these influencers operate a popular blog or a widely read Twitter stream, or both. Although there are many social media vehicles available to lawyers (including standbys like Facebook and LinkedIn and newer entries like Quora and Google+), at this point it’s very difficult to earn the title of influencer without a publishing engine (a blog) and a circulation system (a Twitter feed).
Three people in particular stood out in our survey and deserve special mention:
- Rob Hyndman of Hyndman Law in Toronto is the undisputed king of Twitter among Canadian lawyers: at time of writing he had issued 35,065 tweets; the next closest total was Barry Sookman of McCarthy Tétrault, with nearly 13,000.
- Michael Geist’s influence spreads far beyond the Canadian legal community: more than 16,000 people follow his Twitter stream of news and links to copyright law reform worldwide. Next closest is KPMG’s Dominic Jaar, with almost 5,000.
- Arguably, no one has had a greater impact on the development of a Canadian online legal world than Simon Fodden, founder of slaw.ca. To put it in perspective: since its debut in 2005, Slaw has featured more than 7,500 posts, from dozens of columnists and contributors from Canada and around the world, and has received more than 10,000 comments.
What can we learn from all this? That anyone with a message to send and the willingness to engage with a readership can take advantage of the self-publishing opportunities presented by social media and become an opinion leader within the profession. Visit the blogs and read the Twitter streams of these 24 influencers today and let them open you up to a vast library of knowledge, perspectives and connections — and think about what you’d need to do to join their ranks.
Warren Smith is a managing director of lawyer recruitment and career consulting firm, The Counsel Network. You can follow him on Twitter @lawheadhunter. Jordan Furlong is a senior consultant with Stem Legal, where he advises lawyers and law firms on social media and communications strategy. You can follow him on Twitter @jordan_law21.
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