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Here, founder and editor of Media Law (Northern Ireland) Brian John Spencer, looks back at 2013, which he says was a banner 12 months for lawyers online, and predicts that 2014 will be the year of the legal blogger and tweeter:

It was the year that the Defamation Act became law – A legislative enterprise initiated and propelled by legal blogger and tweeter David Allen Green (@DavidAllenGreen). It was the year David Allen Green became resident legal blogger at the Financial Times – a development of great moment. It was the year that a legal blogger was, for the first time ever, cited in a High Court judgement. It was the year that John Cooper QC (@John_Cooper_QC) led a Twitter vanguard in opposition against legal aid cuts with the hashtag #FailingGrayling.

It was the year that new-age legal services provider Riverview Law (@RiverviewLaw) and law firm DMH Stallard (@DMHStallard) formed a business alliance – and all thanks to Twitter. It was the year US Supreme Justice Elena Kagan admitted to using an iPad and Kindle. It was the year former judge, Henry Brooke joined Twitter.

As John Cooper QC said:

“The mark of Twitter is that many at the Bar who were dismissive & snobbish of Twitter 3 years ago are now tweeting like Nightingales.”

And this was representative of something wider. As Karl Gardner said:

“You tut if you want to, the [legal] market is for turning.”

And if all that doesn’t convince you, the Law Society published polling data that said more lawyers than ever were using social media. The Law Society also published a “Twitter Tips” policy document for lawyers in England and Wales. The Irish Times profiled Irish legal-tweeters and ran a feature on the flourishing online legal community in Ireland. And all the while, the tweeting barrister Adam Wagner – “the very definition of a modern lawyer” – was there tweeting and blogging away, showing us how it should be done. His new media hyper-activity even brought him into the world of traditional media with his work on BBC News. It was also the year Kevin Poulter (@kevinpoulter) expanded his extensive social media activity into the world of traditional media – becoming a BBC-regular.

2013 was also the year that former litigator, Glenn Greenwald went global for his journalism. But we should remember him for his lawyering – his story is highly relevant to the legal community. For nearly two decades he was a civil liberties litigator with his own firm. In 2005 he started blogging – “without any plan to become a journalist or writer, but simply to participate as a citizen.”

Like David Allen Green, he started with a simple – do it in 5 minutes – blogspot theme.

In 2014, blogging and social media for lawyers is simply here. It is the tool of our time. And it is – as Greenwald said – about “participating” as a conscientious member of the legal community. That’s where we are now. It simply is. Being online and a digital-lawyer is quickly becoming as elementary a legal accessory as the business lunch or the barrister’s gown.

It’s quickly becoming an irresistible force.

2013 was the lawyer’s coming of age online. 2014 could be the year of the legal tweeter and the legal blogger.

With thanks to Brian John Spencer for this post. Tweet us @ElephantCreate and Brian @brianjohnspencr with your views. 

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