Canadian Lawyers as Twitter Leaders?

Earlier this week, Tech Vibes reported that as worldwide Twitter subscribership crossed the half-billion mark, Canadian accounts were shown to account for 2% of that total, placing Canada at 8th spot among all countries in total Twitter subscriber numbers. Canadians, of course, were also among the early adopters of Facebook and routinely top the rankings of ComScore and similar reports for such things as time spent online, so our collective Twitter presence is not actually all that surprising.

The surprise comes courtesy of some recently completed but not-yet-released research conducted by CanLII. Over a 6 week period in June and July, CanLII ran its largest-ever survey of users. This particular survey was directed solely to Quebec notaries as well as lawyers from all Canadian jurisdictions and asked, among other things, about social media use. From the over 4000 response received we learned that 22% of those surveyed have a personal Twitter account.

When you stack that 22% number up against the Canadian total, it leads to the unmistakable conclusion that the Canadian legal profession is much closer to the leading than the trailing edge of the Twitter revolution. Consider the math:

2% of 500,000,000 = 10,000,000 Twitter accounts which, when divided by 34,000,000 million of us occupying this space, equates to roughly 29% of Canadians with an account. But when you consider the number of Twitter spambots, parody accounts, corporate Twitter accounts, and multiple automated Twitter accounts managed by a single person (Slaw.ca, for example is responsible for over 10 Twitter accounts), the actual percentage of individual Canadians with a Twitter account would be well below 29%. By some estimates, fake/spam accounts represent at least 10% of all Twitter accounts – this alone would remove over 1 million from the Canadian total.

But the 22% of notaries and lawyers with Twitter accounts is a true number that does not lend itself to overstatement or understatement as each survey participant was presented with a simple yes/no question as to whether they had a personal Twitter account.

I should mention that the 2012 ABA Tech survey provides another point of reference. In that report (available for a fee), 11% of respondents reported that they used “Twitter or similar microblogging services for professional purposes” and 21% reported use of the services for “personal, non-professional purposes”. In the spirit of the Olympics, where victory can be measured by 1/100th units, I hope our American friends will forgive me for awarding Canadian lawyers the gold.

So if Canadian lawyers are in fact leading adopters of this particular technology, what does it mean? I’ve previously offered suggestions, but I’m curious to know what you think.

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Comments

  1. In Italy there are some young lawyers using tweeter. I think under 500 units.

    I’ve explained twitter to italian lawyers many times, but it is not used as it should be.

    On http://www.gloxa.eu/group/Diritto you can find a group of italian lawyers with tweets filtered by hashtag #diritto (that is ius, derecho, droit in other languages).

    Everybody in the group tweeting with #diritto will help others to stay updated.

    Does it work ? Yes, but there are only 30 users.

    The problem is co-working in a spontaneous way, asynced. But it works even if there are also less than 30 users: the newest tweets are embedded in laws websites and they become immediatly known, giving help and news to readers.

    It’s difficult for cultural reasons. We are missing something, that’s the reality. The solution will be probably called web 3.0

  2. It seems like a quiet surge is occurring, where lawyers are finding out that the information shared by popular social networks need not be social or trivial in substance.
    I took a crack at estimating how many of our ranks were using Twitter professionally at the beginning of this year, and borrowed from last year’s ABA stats which seemed to indicate adoption was only at 6%. So it’s interesting to think that a year later that number has at least doubled.
    A more noticeable sign of the changing times might be the reduction of sheerly dismissive reactions from non-Twitter using members of the Bar. I think if there is not widespread acceptance of Twitter as an “always-on, source-agnostic information network through which you can show off expertise, and curate specialized knowledge within a legal context”, there is at least a slight, and growing, hesitation on the part of more calloused legal types to roundly dismiss the Twitter medium as mere foolery.