This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, LawSikho.
Recently I was talking to a corporate client of LawSikho.com. This is a huge FMCG giant. The officer was telling me about how they hired their latest external expert for the sexual harassment related internal complaints committee.
Guess what. I was shocked. They hired a youtube lawyer who regularly sensitizes people on sexual harassment and gender issues on YouTube.
For obvious reasons, I will not name anybody involved. But here is the kicker.
It turned out that the executive who invited us to submit a proposal in the first place has been following iPleaders blog for several years.
He said my recent posts on LinkedIn that he engaged with convinced him to break the general rule that they do not work with startups. He convinced his bosses that we should be given a chance for a very large training assignment.
Contrast this with a senior criminal lawyer who had once taken up a business law course from us. We require our students to write a blog post every month. This lady was extremely against the idea. She threatened to quit the course over this.
“What kind of clients decide to hire a lawyer by reading a blogpost?” She said. It turns out that it is basically everyone with a smartphone. Sure they are not going to hire any random person who has written a blogpost.
But if you cultivate your brand carefully over time, it can surely get you a lot of attention and social currency, that will translate into amazing assignments.
I have been blogging for 10 years now. The opportunities that come from blogging only keep increasing every year.
Major publishers reaching out to me to contribute book chapters or write a book? Check.
Thousands of clients who paid several crores in fees over the years? Check.
Speaking invitations to IITs, IIMs, other major business schools, TEDx and such other events? Check.
A network of professional connections who value and respect me in any city around the world? Check.
The Government of India reaching out for suggestions or inputs on critical things? Check.
Foreign law firms and service providers paying us for the privilege of publishing their articles on our blog? Check.
Anything is possible.
The blog I once started has now turned into a valuable media property that big media houses want to buy. I have been offered crores to sell it. I am not going to sell because I love it and there is a long way to go.
I am not writing this to brag about iPleaders blog. I am trying to tell you how powerful online media is and why as a legal professional you should make full use of it.
And it’s not only blogging. Now platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Quora etc are all providing amazing opportunities to lawyers who know how to use these well.
And YouTube. It’s just insane. What a lawyer can do with youtube is just phenomenal. But before I get too excited about this, let me tell you what is the driving force behind this revolution that has already hit the legal profession.
Yeah sure, most lawyers do not realise yet, but things have already shifted and will continue to shift. For many, it will be too late before they realise what is going on.
Let’s talk about the fundamentals
Media is a very powerful thing. See how hungrily powerful people in the society buy up all media. Ambanis are always ready to buy more media companies.
Politicians too. Many media owners make an easy transition into politics. Political parties put in a lot of effort to woo media people. They even try to have their own media arm.
Businesses spend tons of money on media.
Media websites like Facebook, Google, Netflix etc are the biggest businesses of the world.
Media is the fastest growing industry in the world.
Media companies get more value in the stock market or at the time of acquisition even when compared to hottest hardware technology companies.
Why is that?
Because of the most expensive and rare thing in today’s world in human attention. And the media has got the attention of the people.
If you have attention, you can get everything else. Or sell that attention for others to run advertisements.
And in today’s world, nobody can have a media monopoly. New media always comes up and takes place of older, more standard things that people eventually lose interest in.
So media is not only big, but it is also always more friendly and welcoming to new, fresh, unique voices and ideas.
This is not how it always was
For a long, long time, the media was controlled by a few powerful men. They owned TV channels, radio waves, movie theatres, production companies. They could shut out the voices they didn’t like. They could pick and choose who they wanted to make famous.
They could decide which books get released, which singer becomes a superhit, which movies will get onto the theatres. The decided which ideas would spread.
Nobody has that kind of power anymore thanks to digital media.
The equation has upended forever. Now I can produce movies and release on YouTube or Netflix. I can even make a small clip of 30 seconds that will be watched by 5 million people. I can write an article, publish it on my blog, and then people can find it using Google. I can cultivate followership on Twitter or Instagram and make a news item viral whenever I want. And I am not alone, there are millions of influencers who can do exactly the same.
I can even pay a small amount of money to Facebook and make sure that 1 lakh law students read my message by tomorrow morning.
We can even build a massive blog like iPleaders, read by a million readers every month, and run it with the help of a tiny team. To do this a few years back, one would have needed a mid-sized media company with dozens of employees.
Thanks to the internet, those days are gone. Now you, yes, you, can build a media company that serves your own purposes. Maybe it can serve your law practice.
Surely, law firms have really woken up to the possibility. While law firms like Nisith Desai Associates have been a pioneer in this area, now even the more traditional and conservative ones like SAM and CAM are following suit!
Unfortunately, lawyers have been mostly slow on understanding, harnessing and even noticing the power of social media or content. Not all lawyers though.
Just as you are reading this, there are lawyers out there building massive social media brands and followings – on every social media you can imagine. And at the heart of that is the ability to create great content.
The future doyens of the Supreme Court and various HCs, even the local courts perhaps, will have massive social media followings.
What we are doing about it and what can you do about it?
What can you do about this massive shift that is underway?
I say you got to build your own private media empire. It’s like the gold rush right now. You can make the biggest youtube channel about venture capital law practice, or real estate contracts or media law. You can make Instagram handle that doles out legal tips for directors. Maybe you can make the most amazing blog on divorce law, like these smart lawyers made on education law.
All the good legal writers are being scooped up by top lawyers and law firms. Successful lawyers are paying a lot of money to good content writers who understand social media and can handle their social media profiles effectively.
Similarly, all of the biggest law firms have either hired or are hiring legal journalists and bloggers in the hope that these people will infuse some energy into their own content marketing and blogging initiatives.
Yes, you heard it here first, big law firms are paying bloggers INR 70,000 – 1,50,000 per month to come in-house and explore what can be done for their in-house blogging initiative.
A law firm I cannot name hired us to do a 3-day workshop for their associates around blogging. There is so much interest, that we are thinking of launching courses around blogging for lawyers. Also other things like how to build a relevant following on social media as well as how to succeed on youtube.
There are also non-traditional legal businesses like VakilSearch and LawRato which does a lot of blogging, social media and YouTube. They know they have to!
Law firms and other businesses operating in the legal domain will be soon forced to get onto YouTube as well. Instagram and other even more new social media will be colonized by individual lawyers who will build a massive following there.
Law is a very vast subject. It’s not an area where there will be 10 or 20 experts. India needs hundreds of legal experts who are dispensing information and empowering people online, and therefore building a following and influence. There is a lot of opportunity for the first movers. With time, this will be harder and harder.
Anyway, we make it a point to teach all our students to blog already. We also teach them to use LinkedIn effectively. You can see how we use it ourselves! See iPleaders blog, and you will see how many of our students are regularly blogging there.
Do you think we should start teaching blogging and youtubing to the legal community? Should we offer courses on how to build following and influence on social media?
Do let me know by commenting on the post. I will eagerly wait for your responses.
Btw, here are some courses we are beginning by end of this month.
- Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
- Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions)
- Diploma in Entrepreneurship, Administration and Business Laws
Executive Certificate Courses
- Certificate course in Advanced Corporate Taxation
- Certificate course in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code