5 Questions for @AppellateDaily

What Law Students and Lawyers Can Gain from Twitter

I recall a career services pep talk during my 1L year in which I was encouraged use social media to develop my career. I took that to mean (1) keep an updated LinkedIn profile; and (2) be careful about what I post on Facebook. At the time, I did not think much about how Twitter could be used as a professional development tool.

Now I know better.

I have come to appreciate the vibrant community of Twitter users who break news on court decisions, give advice on legal writing, and even brainstorm #AppellateBandNames. Following and interacting with #LawTwitter can offer students great insights into the practice of law, give practicing attorneys the opportunity to connect and share experiences, and inform the general public about the important legal issues of the day.

I decided to get an expert opinion on this topic, so I reached out to one of my favorite follows on Twitter, Michelle Olsen. Her @AppellateDaily feed features wonderful insight and information about the Supreme Court and the federal courts of appeals. (I’m not the only one who thinks so; currently @AppellateDaily has more than 8,000 followers).

Michelle was gracious enough to answer a few questions about how and why she uses the platform, as well as what advice she has for law students and young attorneys interested in getting involved in #LawTwitter.

KE: When and why did you start @AppellateDaily?

MO: I started @AppellateDaily in June 2010, as a way to share legal research and writing with a wider audience. I did not foresee what a rich source of information it would become to me, as well as a springboard for friendships.

KE: How often do you check Twitter each day?

MO: Multiple times.

KE: In what ways has using Twitter affected how you get information about the legal world?

MO: Twitter is my main source of legal news. It beats everything else on speed. Find out on Twitter first. Also, fantastic in-depth analysis is readily available. (That, of course, is dependent on following great accounts.) On Twitter, you can hear from the best of the best directly: judges, attorneys, law professors, journalists, etc., because many have accounts. Finally, on Twitter, you can engage with others to test ideas, share war stories, and find the humor behind the news.

KE: How do you think young lawyers and law students can use Twitter effectively as they begin their legal careers?

MO: Definitely set up an account and follow along. And if you see a need, fill it through tweets. If you do so consistently, you’ll build an audience.

KE: Finally (and perhaps most importantly), for any new #LawTwitter user, what are the top 10 accounts you recommend following?

MO: My Top 10 accounts? I can’t narrow it down to just ten! As far as reporters, many of the best are found in the list that @SCOTUSblog follows. (Of course, I recommend following @SCOTUSblog.) As far as law professors, @RickHasen and @OrinKerr are superb. They have that mix I mentioned earlier — quick takes, followed by in-depth analysis, in their areas of specialty. For judges, both @JusticeWillett and @JudgeDillard maintain an active presence, and I love both accounts for the legal news, as well as the judges’ humor and humanity.

Thank you to Michelle for her thoughts and recommendations for new #LawTwitter users. I highly recommend following @AppellateDaily if you’re interested in the Supreme Court and appellate issues.

And, for what it’s worth, Michelle’s advice about entering the fray where you see a need is spot-on. Just this last week, I was overwhelmed by how many attorneys offered their thoughts on a question I asked an acquaintance. It’s been the gift that keeps on tweeting.

For a more thorough defense of using Twitter as a law student, see this informative piece. And, to any lawyers who remain doubters, I point you to super-duper lawyer Ted Boutrous’s enthusiasm for using Twitter as “a major dominant source of information sharing.”