Familylawtweetup – huge success

Last week saw the 1st ever family law tweetup in London. Held at No.1 Alfred Place, the event provided fellow tweeters a chance to finally meet up and talk face to face.

Clearly the mix of professions present was dominated by family lawyers and barristers, however also present were IFA’s, and several other professions, each with their own angle on family law. I managed to meet up with a number of people who I’d connected with on Twitter which was invaluable. Gaining insights into the politics, hearing about the ‘makers and shakers’ of the family law world was an eye opener. Some Twitter avatars are clearly out of date judging from the different hair styles and a few new wrinkles! Having attended many business networking events over the years, I was expecting to travel home with a pocket full of business cards. In fact I don’t think there were many business cards passed that night, rather Twitter handles to follow up the next morning 🙂  

You may wonder why a technology company would want to be present at such event – simple. Whilst developing our software tools, we’ve become true believers in family mediation. The #familylawtweetup was a wonderful opportunity to meet up with lawyers and mediators to discuss issues and the reality of technology in the context of family law. We managed to spread the word on our growing free database of family mediation services findmediation.co.uk. And to cap it all, the chance to met some really lovely people who are passionate about what they do.

What was just as interesting as meeting up with Tweeters, was hearing how Twitter has affected the working and social life of us all. There were stories of how new opportunities have arisen in business purely out of relationships built on social media.

Huge thanks has to go to Joanne Major of Major Family Law, Geraldine Morris of Lexis Nexis and those behind the scenes for organising the event. Despite a 3 1/2 hour journey down South, a train and tube ride into the capital, the Tweetup was definitely a wonderful opportunity to meet old/new Tweeters. Future familylawtweetup’s will definitely be a must.

Staying client focused – can we simply ignore social media?

How people communicate is changing – the days of letters in the post are quickly being replaced by electronic messages.  The Office of National Statistics released data on 31st August 2011 showing internet access for UK households and individuals [Ref 1]. This is further broken down into statistics for internet activity[Ref 2].

These statistics show that social networking proved to be the most popular activity for 16-24 year old Internet users, with 91% saying they took part in social networking on websites including Facebook/ Twitter. This was not limited to this age group, with almost 18% of Internet users aged 65 and over indicating that they used social networking. Overall, social networking was more popular among women by 6%.

However one statistic which may surprise you is the increase in mobile internet access over the past two years in different age bands. In the age group 25-34 in the past 2 years there has been a 33% increase and the age group 35-44 a 22% increase.

 

 

 

In our legal system we are also seeing changes in how the courts are also adapting to the changes. They are seeing technology people use is changing – and the courts are making use of these new communications. Over the past two years, the High Court has ruled in favour of using Social Media for contacting in commercial cases.

In 2009, Mr Justice Lewison allowed an injunction to be served via Twitter in the case of Donal Blaney (principal of Griffin Law), was the victim of the anonymous impersonation. The defendant was only known by his Twitter-handle and could not easily be identified another way.

In March 2011, a Hastings County Court judge gave the go-ahead for a court order to be served via Facebook in a county court. This was permitted after the lawyers had reportedly tried the service using traditional methods without success.

Mr Justice Teare gave the go-ahead for the social networking site in February 2012, to be used where there were difficulties locating one of the parties  [Ref 3] involved in a claim for £1.3m against TFS Derivatives in respect of commission charges.

Jenni Jenkins, a lawyer at Memery Crystal, which represented Ahmad (one of the parties) commented “The courts recognise the increasing power of social networking sites like Facebook. It’s all very well serving proceedings at a last known residential address, but people move house all the time. Your email or Facebook account moves with you.” [Ref 4] The ruling set a precedent and made it likely that service via Facebook would become routine.

These statistics show that Social Media over the past two years has become increasingly integrated into the way we communicate. To stay relevant and in contact with clients, using social media cannot be ignored. Will future client communications use social media  to communicate, replacing letters, emails and SMS? Or will it be replaced with another innovation.

References :

[Ref 1]
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2011/index.html

[Ref 2]
http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access—households-and-individuals/2011/stb-internet-access-2011.html#tab-Internet-Activities

[Ref 3]
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/9095489/Legal-claims-can-be-served-via-Facebook-High-Court-judge-rules.html

[Ref 4] http://www.thelawyer.com/stephenson-harwood-uses-facebook-to-serve-court-claim/1011510.article