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Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Crossing the line between positive marketing and mockery

It is fair to say that lawyers are often guilty of being reticent over their successes. There is something uniquely British about professional modesty. We are just doing it for our clients after all. At one level there is nothing wrong with that. But at another level we should be prepared to tell the world about a job well done and a successful result. How else will that world get to know that we are the best law firm in the world? Sharing our victories should be something that we should always be willing to do.

I have done it in this blog on numerous occasions –

There, I just did it again.

But is there a difference between celebration of a win and tasteless gloating? The latter would appear to be the case with tweets from Baker Small, a solicitors’ firm who recently acted for a local authority who successfully fought parents at a tribunal hearing in relating to special needs provision –

The comments went beyond a positive report about the case to mocking the losing families. The tweets included this –

“Some great tweets received today from people who just see a one-sided argument … just shared them with my cat…” and “Great ABA Trib win this week … interesting to see how parents continue to persist with it. Funny thing is parents think they won ;)”

The firm has rightly apologised and withdrawn the comments.

Social media is now playing a massive role in marketing strategies. And rightly so. My LinkedIn connections apparently give me access to business contacts that would populate a small country! This means we have to carefully plan what we say. What message do we wish to convey about our business? Do we want the world to know that we are good at what we do? Or do we want the world to think that we are heartless monsters who mock the parents of children with disabilities? It is remarkable how much damage can be caused by 140 characters. And how much good can come from a careful and concise statement.

The rule has to be – think first tweet later. Think about who will read what you write. Think about what it says about who you are as well as what you have done!


Since I wrote this post a number of council’s have announced that they are cancelling or reviewing their contract with the firm in question –

          It may well be that they did a good job in the first place. But the impact of the thoughtless tweets has now massively outweighed any benefits.

Those 140 characters can be a powerful tool. But they can also be like recklessly pulling the pin from a hand grenade.

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