As some of you might be aware from my (slightly frustrated) tweets, my firm has recently embraced* social media.
*read introduced in a stumbling, halting series of initatives, not unlike like bambi standing up.
The trainees have been involved from the start, not through choice but through the powers that be assuming young people have an affinity for all things technology. Born in the digital age, we use and understand technology without thinking, it is second nature to us. Or so they thought.
It turns out, I am the only trainee tweeter and, I am sad to say, the only trainee who had ever read a law blog. Shock horror! I thought perhaps this may have been due to the previously onerous social media policy, which was very heavy handed and likely to put off any newbie from going anywhere near. Or perhaps like me, the trainees secretly blog and tweet but didn't want to admit it.
In fact this was far from the case. Half the trainees are social media sceptics.
I know that most of those who slate social media have never used it; they simply don't understand the uses of twitter or linked in. A lot of sceptics convert and rave about social media once they have learnt how to use it. Personally my knowledge and understanding of the law has been widended through twitter discussions and blogging has hugely improved my writing skills (if I do say so myself, I think I write a damn good blogpost!). Even if not used to engage, twitter delivers a wealth of relevant, topical and timely information to your screen just by following the right accounts. Several snippets I picked up from client tweets gave my supervisor an edge whilst talking to the client in question, information which was not available through any other medium.
The trainees are not converts in waiting - they have actively tried social media and dismissed it. They feel it is a waste of time they could be using elsewhere and they found no value in the information disseminated. Even linked in didn't interest them as they had no client contacts to link in with.
In particular I have been stumped by the response to one idea from marketing; a trainee blog; hosted by the firm but run by trainees. The content will be written from a trainee point of view and more personalised than the client briefing style blogs the firm currently hosts. The target audience is those looking for training contracts initially but, provided it is done well, could very possibly have a wider appeal. On a more selfish note, a trainee blog would be a good personal marketing tool both internally and externally as, unlike the articles that many of the trainees write for their supervisors or sector groups, we would take the credit. It would give us something to push through social media and, of course top of the list, something to put on the CV.
Unfortunately, what I thought would be an easy win has turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. Every spearhead meeting I would organise with the trainees, the sceptics would turn up and slate the idea. I actually had one trainee tell me 'there was nothing interesting about his job to write about'. Lucky for him, there was no partner in the room! Despite the proposed discussion topics for the sessions (e.g. post ideas, partner interviews and the infamous naming meeting that lasted 2 hours) they manage to turn the conversation back to their lack of belief in the idea. What iritates me most about this is that it isn't compulsory; they turn up to the meetings out of choice!
All in all I am flabbergasted (yes, it merits the use of that word) that trainees could be so narrow minded. I am not suggesting that everyone should be forced to use social media, not at all. However, actively shooting down a new iniative because you don't see the merit in it and aren't willing to try shows lack of vision. Law firms are going to have to evolve to survive; how are they going to act if they are so opposed to a little optional idea?
I hope, trainees to be, that you will be more open to innovation when you become trainees!