Wikipedia Marketing – Use a Wiki to Market a Law Firm Or Practice

Wikipedia is a very important tool in a tech-savvy legal marketers’ arsenal. Web technologies like RSS from blogs, wikis, forums, and other kinds of channels into feed-enabled portals create buzz about an attorney or law firm.

Wikipedia has a massive traffic volume and influence in search engine results. The site also tends to attract a tech-savvy audience that researches RSS and other Web 2.0 technologies. Presented carefully, a strong presence for a law firm with relevant Wikipedia entries can help drive traffic to the Firm’s website. In the ever-expanding world of social computing, it makes sense for firms and attorneys to take the plunge into Wikipedia, but it is just as important to learn the rules of the game first.

GETTING STARTED

When creating the firm or attorney page, first check the state bar’s rules for the filing requirements for public advertising and written, recorded, electronic or other digital solicitations. In Texas, all attorney advertising copy must be submitted to the Advertising Review Department. However, since Wikipedia entries are assumed written by a neutral third-party the pages don’t officially fall into the “advertising” category.

Here is the official word from the Texas State Bar Advertising Review Department Director Gene Major; “Read the Texas Disciplinary Rules for Professional Conduct. Rule 7.07(e) lists the type of exemptions the Bar allows without submission for approval from us. These exemptions include publicly available information about the attorney or law firm, business card-type information about practice areas, firm website and information concerning legal issues, such as news articles, legal articles, editorial opinions, or other legal developments or events.”

Before constructing the framework for the Wikipedia page, the best advice is to list everything planned for the page, then read the individual state bar’s exemptions rule on filing requirements and make sure nothing on the Wikipedia list contradicts the state bar rule.

Wikipedia’s strict content guidelines must also be addressed and understood thoroughly. Wikipedia’s editors are basically anyone who owns a computer, and they can be merciless. Wikipedia defines itself as: an encyclopedia, not a forum for advertising or self-promotion, or a vanity press. As such, it should contain only material that complies with its content policies, and Wikipedians must place the interests of the encyclopedia first. Any editor who gives priority to outside interests may be subject to a conflict of interest.

There are no firm criteria to determine whether a conflict of interest exists, but there are warning signs. Adding material that appears to promote the interests or visibility of an article’s author, its author’s family members, employer, associates, or their business or personal interests, places the author in a conflict of interest. When editors write to promote their own interests, their contributions often show a characteristic lack of connection to anything the general reader might want to consult as a reference.

When constructing a page if its decided to write an article on an area of law where there is personal involvement, be sure to write in a neutral tone and cite reliable, third party published sources, its important to beware of unintentional bias. A neutral point of view is the key to success on Wikipedia.

The best learning tools here are examples. Houston attorney Mark Lanier’s page is a good model of how to write a Wikipedia entry properly. It can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Mark_Lanier

You will notice Lanier’s page is categorized under American Lawyers/Living People. A page’s category is an important designation. According to the Wikipedia article traffic statistics (http://stats.grok.se/) Lanier’s page has been visited 246 times in June of 2008.

A law firm that created their Wikipedia entry properly can be found here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skadden%2C_Arps%2C_Slate%2C_Meagher_%26_Flom

This firm categorized their entry under: Law firms of the United States | Law firms established in 1948 | Law firms based in New York City. According to the traffic counter, their page has been viewed 6,508 times in June of 2008. That’s a strong audience.

Along with the successful pages we should also cite examples of problem entries. Haynes & Boone is a good cautionary tale. Their page can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haynes_%26_Boone

You will notice there is a warning header at the top of the page listing the entry as being written as an advertisement. Judging from the length of the page a lot of work went into building it. But there aren’t any external links except self-promoting websites and there are no references listed. Whoever wrote this entry probably thought the link to the firm’s website would be enough to justify the time and effort it took to build the page. However, a quick check of the page traffic counter shows the page was visited once in May and not at all in June. It is important to cite sources and make sure other articles link to the page from related topics. Make content relevant for the Wikipedia community, not just the firm.

CASE CITATIONS

You will notice from the Mark Lanier page example citations of some of his flagship cases. These cases should not be cited unless they are considered closed by the courts and all parties involved. If an attorney is involved in a court case, or close to one of the litigants, it would be very difficult to demonstrate that what is written about a party or a law firm associated with the case, or a related area of law, was entirely objective.

The courts or their parties could potentially notice even a minor slip up in neutrality in a court-case article on Wikipedia for an active case-in-progress, and this could potentially cause real-world harm. Because of this, restrict case citations and edits on other Wikipedia pages to cases officially closed.

STEPS FOR DEVELOPING THE PAGE

1. Research State Bar Professional Conduct Guidelines for filing requirements.

2. Research Wikipedia’s guidelines for content creation and editing, including standards for writing style, formatting, editing, adding links, etc.

3. Study the attorney and firm pages listed in this article and notice how they crafted their page, then make it easy on yourself and copy them with your own content.

4. Choose the proper category for the page. Study other related firms and attorney pages to distinguish the particular area that will most benefit your practice.

5. Find someone outside of your organization to do the actual development of the entry to avoid being deleted by Wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest policy.

6. Craft practice articles in the Wikipedia Sandbox:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Sandbox The Wikipedia Sandbox section of the site allows members to post draft articles, experiment with formatting, tone, and linking strategies, and receive feedback from the community

7. Write articles according to Wikipedia’s neutral point-of-view standards, which discourages users from putting spin or bias in articles. Remove all the slick marketing hype for the copy. This sentence, for instance, is similar to something that would appear in company marketing materials:
o “XYZ Firm is a diversified law practice focused on the highest level of customer service”
For Wikipedia, it needs to sound like this:
o “XYZ Firm is comprised of attorneys representing a number of diverse practice areas including, Intellectual Property, Maritime Law and Business Litigation.”

8. Strategically link related pages within Wikipedia. Guidelines state that content creators should provide relevant links to other Wikipedia articles.

9. Use external links to send traffic to a Firm’s site. Hotlinks are permitted in certain sections of a Wikipedia article, such as External Links. Be sure to add links to relevant Firm Web pages where possible. Use concise, targeted pages relevant to the Wikipedia article in question, rather than just linking to the company’s homepage. Add links to the firm’s Web pages, data sheets, and white papers in an article’s “References” section. Include links to third-party sites on company-specific pages to demonstrate neutrality.

Finally, take all the valuable content just created and add value to the Wikipedia community by expanding the information available on RSS technology.

TRACK THE RESULTS

Starting with the article traffic statistics, track how many people are visiting the Wikipedia page. Be sure to monitor where clients are hearing about the firm and keep a record of the new calls into the office and be sure and ask the client where they heard of the firm.

Wikipedia is a collaborative, constantly evolving site, and a firm’s page must be constantly monitored. The team responsible for overseeing the page must constantly be aware of edits to the page, participate in ongoing discussions about pages, and look for opportunities to add more relevant, useful content to the site. Provide value to the Wikipedia community and reap the rewards!

How to Become a Partner in a Law Firm

Becoming a partner in a law firm is an objective for most lawyers. Partnership entails successfully running the law firm and meeting the expectations of your partners and clients. Lawyers who want to make partnership have to dedicate several years to building good reputation inside and outside their law firms. This usually requires consistently performing good work, earning the respect and admiration of the junior lawyers, the partners and clients they work for. It also requires staying active in their local bar associations and publishing articles on related legal issues.

Lawyers frequently think that being a good lawyer will be sufficient to qualify them for partnership appointment. Being a good litigator is certainly a big part of the criteria for partnership in a law firm. However, there are usually numerous other factors that are taken into consideration for eligibility for legal partnership.

Why is it important to become a partner in a law firm?

As a beginner in the legal world, a lawyer needs to work as a trainee in a law firm for a few years. To succeed as a lawyer, you need to have a clear understanding of the law and get to know the inner workings to help you win cases. Once you have gained enough experience and earned a reputation for winning cases, your chances of becoming a partner is close to reality.

Being a partner has lots of benefits. One of these is become a part owner of the firm and acquiring a share of the profits. A law firm partner also has a right to vote on decisions made by the firm which will include voting on how profits are distributed, making decisions involving the appointment of future partners and deciding the types of clients to represent.

How can a lawyer work up to become a law firm partner?

Being a partner starts with having a common goal and a vision of how you are going to become a part of a law firm and reach the important milestones in your legal career.

Here are tips to successfully become a law firm partner;

Number One
Work the hours: More hours are better.

Number Two:
Bring in new clients: Working hard is a given but a lawyer must also bring new business to the law firm.

Number Three
Be proactive: Anticipate and plan for the future before it transpires. These efforts will please partners and clients.

Number Four
Be result-oriented: Strive to deliver results quickly.

Number Five
Be a team player: The best lawyers are team players who take a personal interest in the firm’s success.

Number Six
Respect firm employees: Treat every staff member the same way you treat your boss.

Number Seven
Practice consistency: Success results from exercising good habits every day. Do not delay and be prompt when responding to any legal concerns.

Number Eight
Accurate time sheet filling: Filling your time sheet truthfully and on-schedule is the best of establishing credibility.

Number Nine
Create work-life balance: The legal profession can be demanding. Therefore, it is very important that you ensure you maintain work-life balance focusing on your family and your health.

Living the life of a professional litigator is challenging. Therefore, having the drive to succeed is not enough. You must also be smart and to prepare yourself for partnership. Those actions will exemplify your true desire for success in the legal profession.

Are There Any Research Aids to Understand the Top Careers in Demand?

One of the vital steps in getting good lawyer careers is the preparation that you put in to get a career of your choice in a business enterprise that is stable and has a reasonable prospect of growth in the years to come. This is the only way that you can ensure that you have a satisfying career progression in the industry that you have chosen to make a career out of and meet your life goals with relative ease. But all this is possible only if you if you are ready to put in the effort and dedication to research the industry that you are interested in working for.

Before starting your army careers or in some other field, you would have to get through the hiring process that each business enterprise has set up for validating your skills and aptitude. Most of the organizations are acutely aware of the cost of hiring and therefore would like to factor in some scientific methods in the hiring process to ensure some degree of stability in the hiring mechanism. There are different methods by which business enterprises make sure that you are suited for the top careers in demand in the economy today. Apart from the interviews, these corporations rely on a series of screening tests to assess your capabilities. These tests make an assessment of your inter personal skills along with your understanding of the technological subject matter.

Getting through these tests without advance preparation is not advisable as the questions would not be entirely theoretical in nature. All the top careers in demand like careers in physical therapy, fastest-growing-careers and careers in public relations require a degree of interaction with the general public and with the other stakeholders. You would therefore, need to be capable of handling these interactions in consonance with the values of the organization that you are employed with. It is this aspect of your personality that would be assessed in the screening tests while you apply for a career in the organization of your choice.

You can get professional assistance to help you get through the screening process (that includes career interest test and other forms of assessment) with ease. You could visit the leading career and test preparation websites and get hold of some of the valuable advice given by career counselors to help you get through the screening tests. You could also get authentic information on the job specifications that the top careers in demand entail and find out whether you are suited for the position that you are hoping to apply for in a business enterprise.

These websites are offer and in depth repository of information and help you understand the nuances of the various jobs that are available for you to get hold of a career in the industry that you are interested in working for. You would be able to ace your screening tests and get hold of any of the top careers in demand that you had always wanted for yourself once you go through the content in the career and test preparation websites.

Independent Paralegal Careers

Independent paralegal career is quite lucrative. This explains why more and more people invest in law degrees and are already contented with this profession.

They know that they will get the benefits that they want, as well as the salary that they are looking for – with this profession.

As long as they show the lawyers they’re working for that they are dedicated, then they can do this willingly.

A paralegal is a person that is trained in the law in order for them to be independent from lawyers and firms. They can work for the lawyer but they do not have to be tied to the firm. They are contractual.

They do the same duties and responsibilities as any lawyer. The only difference is that the independent paralegal careers can go for the work force that is connected to the ones that will give them what they are looking for.

The independent paralegal careers also cover the real estate and the litigation that can be connected to the criminal law.

When these are required to hold the degree as well as the litigation that is connected to criminal law, they can always turn to the requirements that are needed as a whole for the firm.

The minute that the independent paralegal careers look into the beginning of the work of any firm, then they can just connect these to the paralegals that they are looking for in the first place. When they go for the firm, then they can connect this to what they want.

It is also crucial for the independent paralegal careers to pay close attention to the offers that are connected to the legal assistant that come with the process.

When the independent paralegal careers seem to establish the hours that they can closely look into the schedule then they can definitely regard this as something that they can make dependent.

But this still guarantees that they can receive the training that they want under the lawyer that they are working for.

The independent paralegal careers also receive the certification as well as the programs that come with the recommendation of the prospective paralegals in order for them to attend what they need.

As long as they are required to do the training then everything else is connected and planned.

Once this has been approved then the American Bar Association will credit the works that you do for the company as well as for the other independent paralegal careers that will regard to be quite fruitful for your benefit.

Are You in the Right Career?

One of the great things about coaching is that it can move you to places you have only ever dreamed of. This could be starting a business, changing profession, obtaining promotion or just having a job that you really love.

We all have things that we love to do and rarely do we associate earning a living with enjoyment. Our education system matches education qualifications to career and little importance is associated to core values. Coaching can help people to elicit their core values and identify career paths that will support these values. For example if one of your core values is ‘security’, working in a commission only environment will create conflict and unhappiness.

Also, if you travel a lot and spend little time with your family you could be very unhappy in your chosen career if one of your core values is ‘family’. You may even have dreamed of being a musician and ended up a lawyer for the financial security because this seemed the sensible thing to do at the time. As years pass the material things that financial security has brought you may not seem as important and you yearn to make that life changing career move and just need someone to support you on the journey. Professional coaching can significantly increase your ability to achieve the dream by the power of commitment, focus and the identification of clear goals.

“I truly believe that we should never give upon our hopes and dreams. The path may be rocky and twisted, but the world is waiting for that special contribution each of us was born to make. What it takes is courage to follow those whispers of wisdom that guide us from the inside. When I listen to that, I expect nothing more than a miracle.”

Marilyn Johnson Kondwani

Extract from Close to my heart – chicken soup for the soul newsletter