Ever since 2010 when Nicole Black and I published the book Social Media for Lawyers: The Next Frontier, social media for lawyers in some ways has become a victim of its own success.
What I mean is that once lawyers began to recognize that social media could help attract clients, they glommed on to it and professionalized it; employing social media managers to curate beautiful Instagram post and moderate Facebook groups and purchasing bland, keyword-laden content for blogs. And just like that, 90 percent of lawyers’ social media became nothing more than one big, boring ad campaign.
And that’s why Clubhouse, the newest social media kid on the block is so refreshing so far. Because it’s rough around the edges and noisy and diverse and immediate and ephemeral and most importantly of all, nearly impossible to fake.
So what is Clubhouse? Self-described as a “drop-in audio chat,” Clubhouse enables users to join rooms to chat with one another, listen to experts or host talks. Clubhouse is audio only so it’s highly mobile; I’ve listened to a couple of presentations and even asked questions while on a long drive. As with other social media apps, Clubhouse users create bios (emojis are searchable and therefore encouraged!), follow each other and receive alerts of their activity.
Clubhouse has taken off for multiple reasons. First, to date, Clubhouse is invitation only – meaning that a current user needs to ask you to join. Consequently Clubhouse benefits from the FOMO phenomenon even though it wasn’t intentional — when the app was launched, it wasn’t ready for prime time so rather than roll it out full blast in beta, the founders came up with the invite only scheme.
Second, Clubhouse is addictive. One can while away hours moving from room to room listening to conversations about every topic from the Trump impeachment proceedings to Cannabis Business 101, find advice on careers or dating or even get a reading from a psychic. And because Clubhouse is audio only, it lends itself to listening on the go.
Third, Clubhouse has attracted big celebrity names. I’ve attended sessions by people like Gary V. and Mark Andresson. That kind of accessibility helps further the buzz.
Fourth, Clubhouse is incredibly diverse in age, gender, race and nationality of users. I’d always thought that social media would help me meet and connect with others around the world but with the exception of getting to know a handful of legal tech folks in Israel and the UK, international connections haven’t happened to the same extent as I’ve seen on Clubhouse.
Fifth, Clubhouse came along at the right time. A few months into the pandemic, most of us are Zoomed out, our schedules are unpredictable as we navigate home-schooling and working from home and our attention spans are short. Clubhouse offers a quick way to take a break and chat in bite-sized time slots at any time.
But that’s the bigger picture view of Clubhouse. What you’re probably wondering is whether it’s something that lawyers can use and if so, how.
To answer the first question, Is Clubhouse useful for lawyers, the answer is emphatically yes. I’ll refer you to my co-author Niki Black’s extensive post at Above the Law where she makes a powerful case for why Clubhouse is uniquely suited for lawyers. As Niki describes, Clubhouse plays to lawyers’ strengths by giving them an easy platform to share information, educate others about legal issues and engage in informal discussions that are off the record (since recording chats is prohibited and will get you booted from the platform).
In addition, Clubhouse ought not set off any ethics alarms. After all, lawyers already engage in conversation, so they are intimately familiar with what we can and can’t say in open conversations and those rules shouldn’t change whether we’re interacting at a bar event, a birthday party or in Clubhouse. The scenarios are identical.
In any event, Niki was so intrigued by Clubhouse that she proposed that we co-host a room on How Lawyers Can Use Clubhouse. Our event took place yesterday with the help of Mitch Jackson who generously served with us as a moderator and offered tips as we went. We asked the 75 or so participants how they are using Clubhouse and responses included:
-to mentor law students and women attorneys;
-to share information on intellectual property;
-to host a weekly “Night Court” to discuss different legal topics;
-to interview and shine a spotlight on accomplished individuals;
-to meet attorneys in different countries and exchange ideas on law practice;
-to learn simply by listening about the challenges faced by attorneys of color
-to brainstorm solutions and exchange ideas on challenges like working from home
And yes, lawyers are also finding business and making money from Clubhouse too – in a couple of woman owned lawyer groups that I’m in, at least three attorneys have reported signing up clients (one found a whopping 15 in a span of two weeks) after hosting Q&As on topics like business law, branding and trademarks. No doubt, business development matters — but if that’s your only goal on Clubhouse, you’d be missing out.
But here’s what I like best about Clubhouse. At least for now, you can’t fake it. Insta can be curated, podcasts can be scripted as can Tiktoks, video can be rehearsed over and over again and teleprompted to make it pop.
By contrast, Clubhouse is the simplest and most natural form of communication: conversation just like the ones we used to have at conferences or parties or in-person events. Clubhouse may not completely fill the void and who knows what the platform will look like months down the road. At least for now, in this time, Clubhouse should give lawyers something to talk about by giving us a new platform to talk.
For now, I’m out of invites for Clubhouse. But if you’d like to interact on another platform, attend my free 90 Minute Client Triage Clinic on January 19, 2021 at 3 pm et. Register here.