TBA Law Blog

Posted by: William Haltom on Sep 1, 2014

Journal Issue Date: Sep 2014

Journal Name: September 2014 - Vol. 50, No. 9

I don’t tweet. I also don’t quack, bark, meow, oink or moo.

But all across the country, thousands of lawyers are tweeting these days as if they taw a puddy tat!

A “lawyer’s brief” has long been considered an oxymoron, like “jumbo shrimp” or “liberal Republican” or “Tennessee Vols winning football season.” But a “tweet” is limited to a 140 characters, requiring a tweeting lawyer to be uncharacteristically and breathtakingly succinct.

Mark Twain once wrote a friend, “I apologize for sending you such a long letter. I did not have time to write you a short one.”

We can all be thankful Twain didn’t tweet. A wonderful character like Huck Finn deserved much more than 140 characters.

I wouldn’t know how to tweet even if I wanted to. I can type an email and then hit the “send” button, although I often regret it when I do. Like Jerry Maguire and his “mission statement,” I often wish to take back an email.

I have also recently learned how to send a text message, another way-too-efficient form of communication.

But if for some crazy reason I wanted to chirp, or rather, tweet, I would not even know where to begin. Would I have to climb into a cage at my grandmother’s house and perch myself on a little swing? And when I “tweet” do I type the tweet on my laptop? If I type the tweet, how do I twend it, I mean send it?

I confess I am not a friend of social media. Not only do I not tweet; I’m probably the last lawyer in America who is not on Facebook. I’m the only member of my family not on Facebook. Not only are my wife and my three kids on Facebook, my beagles Atticus and Scout are on Facebook. (They are probably also tweeting, or in their case, barking, at #WOOF!)

My friends (and when I say “friends” I mean people I actually know) tell me that I can’t possibly have a social life unless I’m on Facebook. I respond that I have a real life, thank you, not a virtual one, and I am blessed to have many real friends who have never “defriended” me, and they like me even without hitting the “like” button.

I actually considered going on Facebook a couple of years ago. I checked it out and decided it was the most self-indulgent, narcissistic thing I’ve ever seen.

In case you’ve lived or practiced law in a cave for the last 10 years and know even less than I do about Facebook, let me explain with my limited understanding, how I believe Facebook works.

Imagine if every morning when you woke up, you opened up the window to your bedroom and screamed to all your neighbors, “I JUST WOKE UP! I’M ABOUT TO SHAVE AND TAKE A SHOWER!”

And then imagine while you’re eating breakfast, you opened the window in your kitchen and screamed, “I’M HAVING BREAKFAST NOW!”

And then imagine as you drove to work, you rolled down the window of your car and screamed, “I’M ON MY WAY TO WORK!”

And then when you got to work, you opened the window from your office and screamed out to the world, “I’M IN MY OFFICE NOW!”

And then suppose you spent the rest of the day announcing to the world every silly thing you did.

Believe it or not, this is what people do on Facebook. Really. Seriously. Well, OK, that’s not all they do. They also send out pictures of them doing whatever it is they are doing.
 I would like to invent my own form of social media called “Who Cares Book?”

In this wonderful anti-social, social media device, one could quickly respond to all of your Facebook “friends” with just nine characters: “Who Cares?”

But now all the young tweeting lawyers in my office are telling me that I need to face facts. I need to start tweeting and Facebooking and being “linked” to market my legal services to “friends” (none of whom I’ve ever met) around the cyber world.

But you can’t teach an old dog new tweets. I’m just going to keep “friending” my friends (people I actually know!) the old-fashioned way — by talking with them either in person or by something called “phone” or by sending them messages through the mail, either e- or snail.

In the meantime, for the foreseeable future, I intend to keep “friending” my fellow lawyers across the state of Tennessee in this column, which will never be limited to 140 characters.

I do not apologize for sending you such a long column. I have neither the time nor the ability to send you a tweet.

Bill Haltom BILL HALTOM is a shareholder with the firm of Lewis Thomason. He is a past president of the Tennessee Bar Association and a past president of the Memphis Bar Association. Read his blog at www.billhaltom.com.

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