The Social Frontier

Jennifer Dolman, Simon Hodgett

February 2012

By Marzena Czarnecka, Lexpert Magazine

Lawyers eventually accepted telephones, the fax machines, email and the web as vital business communication tools. The time has come to accept social media.

Most often, though, what it takes is peer pressure. Jennifer Dolman, a litigation partner with Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP in Toronto, bowed to it earlier than most, when attending a franchise law conference in the US. “I was the only Canadian at a table full of American franchise lawyers, and everyone there was involved with LinkedIn,” she recalls. “At that point, I hadn’t heard of anyone who used LinkedIn.” When she got home, instead of pulling out business cards and shooting off follow-up emails (“the old-fashioned way,” she laughs), she got herself on LinkedIn and followed up with her US colleagues that way.

Today, she’s got more than 1,100 professional connections on LinkedIn and has earned the moniker of “the LinkedIn Queen.” “I don’t keep my profile as dead space,” she says. “I’m always adding updates about cases that would be of interest in the area in which I’m holding myself out as having expertise.”

She’s just waded into Twitter – courtesy of a sales pitch by one of Twitter’s in-house lawyers, whom she met at an American Bar Association conference. “I had the classic conversation: if I’m on LinkedIn, why would I need Twitter?” Dolman says. The gist of the sales pitch? “There’s a misconception that to be on Twitter, you have to be someone who’s tweeting.” You can just … listen.

Simon Hodgett … [a] technology lawyer with Osler is enamoured of the technology that drives social media. “I love technology, I love the impact it has socially and on the economy,” he says. But he’s approached social media much more cautiously than fellow Oslerite and “LinkedIn Queen” Dolman. He’s got a LinkedIn profile … he’s been on Twitter for about six months. He’s attracted by the potential. He understands it.