Innovation thrives in social media contest

Third-year law student Brian Pike was awarded first place in MSU Law's first-ever social media contest April 9.

Contest finalists worked since mid-November on building their online brand, establishing legal expertise in a chosen area, and developing a network of professional contacts. The contest encouraged law students to use social media to develop their careers and build relationships. Contestants wrote original blog content, reposted tweets, and networked with other professionals. Students explored site analytics to learn more about connecting with their core audience.

The #MSULawSM contest concluded on April 9 as finalists gave presentations based on their experiences to a panel of seven judges. Prizes included $2,500 in cash awards funded by MSU Federal Credit Union, and legal courses from The BARBRI Group.

Pike's winning approach was rooted in his familiarity with core legal tech concepts. As a participant in MSU Law's ReInvent program, he's attended worldwide conferences, workshops, and presentations on entrepreneurial lawyering. He currently serves as president of the ReInvent Law student group, LegalLaunchPad.

"My main goal was to create meaningful relationships and foster engagement," Pike said. "I recognize the importance of social media in presenting yourself as a unique, well-rounded, and interesting individual."

Runner-up Erin Sweeney agreed: "By generating a social media presence now, I can build my professional brand before I graduate. Today's clients aren't searching for their lawyers in the Yellow Pages they're using search engines." She used social media to highlight her interest in energy law and alternative dispute resolution.

Greta Hogan, the other runner-up for the grand prize, focused her contest entry on the emerging field of fashion law. Her blogging for the contest has led her to multiple law-related job opportunities in social media and blogging.

Social media is fast becoming a competency for lawyers.

"To be competitive, lawyers must develop personal brands and professional connections both offline through face-to-face networking and online through social media," said Daniel W. Linna Jr., assistant dean of career development and professor of law in residence at MSU Law. "Students are learning to better market their professional expertise and demonstrate why employers and clients should hire them."

The social media contest panel of judges was comprised of Seyfarth Shaw Lean Law Evangelist Ken Grady, MSU Law alumnus Pat Ellis of Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn, Blake Johnson of MSU Federal Credit Union, Samantha Meinke of the State Bar of Michigan, The BARBRI Group social media strategist Melody Glatz, Spartan Innovations Director of Student and Community Engagement Paul Jacques, and Yael Boloker of CloudLaw, Inc. The judges tweeted their approval of the competitors, as well as the innovative approach represented by MSU Law's emphasis on emerging legal technology.

"MSU College of Law has a reputation as a school that is leading change in the legal profession," said Ken Grady, who will be teaching at MSU Law as an adjunct professor in fall 2015. "The social media contest is one example of the broader view that students must not only have knowledge about the law but also how to effectively work in the legal industry."

Published: Mon, Apr 20, 2015