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A recent straw poll, by the legal tweeter Brian Inkster, found that law students aren’t pioneers of the online space.  In fact, going by his rough research, other anecdotes and our general observations, law students really aren’t doing their bit to fight against the legal sector’s pushback on tech and social media.

But it’s in the modern law student that we trust. It’s these guys who’re going to make an impact on driving technology and the social web into the heart of legal practice.

Through the Zero to 140 interview series we at Elephant Creative have looked at the whole spectrum. This has included managing partners like Paul King, FT prize winning legal marketers like Elliot Moss, legal journalists like Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia, barristers and legal technology experts like Charles Christian and ambitious emerging lawyers like Anthony Lyons, otherwise known as @Paralegaltony.  And when we’re not online, we spend a lot of our time speaking to law students, whilst at university, teaching them about the importance of building their online brand…

So, it stands to reason that having done nearly every corner of the legal industry in this interview series, there has been an obvious omission: legal education.

This week we have the ambitious legal student and pioneering legal tweeter, Pat Ellis (@Sparty_Legal). As a student of Michigan State University’s College of Law Pat is well placed to bring a fresh perspective to the industry, and the role that social media can (and maybe should) play in any lawyer’s future.  His blog features pithy opinion pieces and insightful commentary on everything from legal theory to client care… Online presence [check]… bags of opinion [check]… not afraid to say it… sounds perfect!



Brian John Spencer: Hey @Sparty_Legal… What are you up to right now?

Pat Ellis: Monday morning in law school: lots of reading, writing, and coffee. It is also very cold here in MI today… so I’m trying to stay warm.

BJS: Why and where did you choose to read law?
PE: I am a student at Michigan State University’s College of Law. A Spartan. A great law school at a great (Big 10) university.

BJS: What does the law mean to you?
PE: For me, law (hopefully) means a career, and a meaningful one. Although currently, it just seems like a LOT of time spent in the library!

BJS: What about the internet?
PE: I’ve never really thought about it. I have always kind of taken the Internet for granted – either a great resource or a great time suck.

BJS: When did you get online?
PE: I cannot remember. When I was very young – I can still remember the sound of dial-up. Maybe that indicates my age?

BJS: When did you jump onto Twitter, LinkedIn etc.?
PE: I have used social media since Myspace (I no longer have an account). I most recently joined LinkedIn – within the last year.

BJS: What do your friends and family make of you tweeting?
PE: I really don’t interact with too many friends or family on Twitter. I use Twitter to follow news, practitioners, etc.

BJS: Why do lawyers have such a mistrust of technology and social media?
PE: The legal services industry is a very time-honored profession and change does not come easy. However, lots of attorneys are taking to SM.

BJS: Should we encourage more legal silver surfers (older generation people)?
PE: Interesting characterization. I don’t think it could hurt, but, I think successful, seasoned practitioners can get by without SM.

BJS: Are you a blogger?
PE: Occasionally – when there’s something to say. I have also written a few guest pieces.

BJS: Thoughts on blogging and what it can do?
PE: Thoughtful blogging is a great practice, especially for attorneys and firms. Blogging is an excellent medium for conveying expertise.

BJS: Social media and the rule of law, do they make a happy couple?
PE: I can’t see why not. I would have followed A. V. Dicey.

BJS: What about social media & law practice – what role does social media have to play?
PE: SM is playing a powerful role in shaping the future of the industry. SM not only a marketing tool, but also provides greater accessibility.

BJS: The UK’s head of public prosecutions has just published draft guidance for social media prosecutions – what’s the situation like in the US?
PE: In terms of free speech, SM receives great protection in the US. I don’t think that will change any time soon.

BJS: The French government wants to censor hate speech on Twitter – good or bad?
PE: Tough question for 140. I would prefer to see social media sites take a tougher stance on hate speech so the government doesn’t have to.

BJS: Have you been trolled?
PE: Only by my roommate.

BJS: Looking forward what does the web and social media hold for lawyers & law practice?
PE: I hope and believe the Internet and social media will provide greater accessibility and transparency for those in need of legal services.

BJS: The UK has just introduced legal apprenticeships – is there anything like that in the US? First impressions?
PE: Nothing in the US, that I know of, mirrors apprenticeship programs in the UK. Alternative routes to legal careers seems like a good thing.

BJS: Should law school teach digital literacy?
PE: DL, in law, is a tremendous competitive advantage. If they start teaching it, it will become less of an advantage! Final answer: yes.

BJS: What about primary schools, should they teach coding and more fundamental computer literacy skills?
PE: As long as it does not conflict with recess!

BJS: Should law school teach commercial acumen like marketing and business development?
PE: It would be great to have some options like that, but you can only squeeze so much education (and money) into three years.

BJS: Any personal online/social media ambitions?
PE: I hope to continue learning through social media and connecting with people, especially in the legal industry.

BJS: Advice for aspiring law students?
PE: Law school requires passion (and a lot of time, effort, and money). If you don’t think you can have passion for it, consider another path.


This interview was put together by Elephant Creative Associate, Brian John Spencer.