A career in social media without abandoning my attorney roots

February 11, 2015

Facebook Gavel social mediaWhen people ask me what I do, I often start with the qualification that I am a licensed attorney. Then I go on to explain that I manage social media for the Legal business unit of Thomson Reuters.  To simplify, I explain that I do the tweeting for @Westlaw.  But despite all the technology, communications, and analytics knowledge that I need to do my job, I still identify my legal knowledge and training as the most important.

The thing is, I absolutely love my job.  I work with some of the most interesting legal practitioners and scholars in the country to create this blog.  I’ve had a chance to interview people like F. Lee Bailey and Prof. Daniel Katz.  I spend significant portions of my workday, and evenings and weekends, following breaking legal news and conversations on Twitter.  I never thought that this is what I would do with my law degree, but I know that I needed my legal training and experience to succeed in this role and to authentically engage with other attorneys.

In my first job after law school I worked in a small firm in Minneapolis.   It was a civil litigation firm and I thought it was exactly what I wanted to be doing.  But despite working in a law firm for years before law school, going through law school and clerking at another firm, I wanted a different career path.  I knew that I was interested in technology, research, and the nascent world of social media.

Fortunately, I live in Minneapolis and I was able to find a good fit for my technology and legal research interests at what was then Thomson West.  I started as a Reference Attorney and spent eight hours each day constructing boolean searches to find the perfect document on Westlaw. I worked with attorneys from every practice area and every type of firm, business, and agency.  I feel confident in saying that, just like the rest of the Reference Attorney team, I was a world-class legal researcher.

At some point a few of us realized that we were often answering the same sorts of research questions. Wouldn’t it be a great idea, we thought, if we had a legal research blog that we could point attorneys and librarians to, for common research issues.  In the wake of the creation of this blog, I hatched a strategy to provide Westlaw research support via Twitter.

These social media projects quickly became more interesting to me than the legal research questions.  I moved around a bit within Thomson Reuters to develop my digital and social media knowledge base and then I was approached to take over my current position.  As I mentioned above, I love it.

While I do work with some of our flagship social accounts, I’m not directly responsible for any product or market segment.  Instead I consult with team all across the company and offer my legal background and social media expertise to help them achieve whatever their goals are.  My goal is to help attorneys succeed in their legal practice.

I embrace my profession in social media, and even occasionally impress my son’s middle school friends when I tell them that I tweet for a living.  But I expect that I will always identify closely with the legal world.