June 8th, 2010

Jonathan I. Ezor

Director, Touro Law Center Institute for Business, Law and Technology and Assistant Professor of Law and Technology

Special Counsel, The Lustigman Firm

Today we’re tweeting w/ @profjonathan: tech lawyer, law prof, author, & one of Long Island Business News’ “Top 40 under 40” in 2005

  1. @profjonathan thank you for joining us today on Twitter. Tell us: who is @profjonathan?
    @ProfJonathan is the law, technology and general Twitter ID for Jonathan Ezor of Long Island, NY
  2. Tell us about your law practice.
    1st a corp. atty in 92, Internet bus law since ’94, and am now counsel to The Lustigman Firm (www.lfirm.com) (@AdvLaw )
  3. What type of clients do you represent?
    Marketers, startups and other cos using the Internet in some way. I do contracts & advisory work, not litigation.
  4. What is the single most important legal issue affecting those clients?
    Today, #privacy and user data laws and regs. Constantly shifting requirements and expectations throughout world.
  5. What do you tell every new client before you start working for them?
    That I know the job of a lawyer is to help find the “yes” if possible, not just say “no.” Then I listen and ask questions.
  6. Tell us about one of the more significant client representations you’ve had.
    I was an outside atty for Juno at & just after its launch as 1st ad-supported free e-mail svc. Cool co., smart people.
  7. That does sound cool. Why do your clients hire you?
    Because I and my colleagues already get what they do, so we can focus on helping them better manage risks….
    I’ve always thought it unfair for clients to have to explain the Internet to their attys while paying for billable hours…
    Also, how can an atty give good advice on risks if he/she doesn’t truly understand the environment in which client works?
  8. Indeed. What’s the most active area of your practice at the current time? Is that typical?
    First is #privacy. We have an efficient, flat-free process to build flexible and understandable policies….
    Other main focus is social media in all forms. Twitter sweepstakes, endorsements, affiliate marketing, etc…
    Because the Internet is constantly evolving, so does our work, which is what makes it fun.
  9. You teach cyberlaw and biz law at Touro Law Center. Does teaching make you a better lawyer? How?
    Touro (http://www.tourolaw.edu) is actually my full-time job; I direct our Institute for Business, Law and Technology…
    Teaching definitely improves my lawyering, and vice versa. Teaching means I must be ready to answer all kinds of Qs…
    …and through my practice, I come across new areas I can share (minus confidential info, of course!) with my students…
    It’s really a great synergy. There’s a reason why lawyers who teach get extra CLE hours. It improves their own practice.
  10. That certainly makes sense. How do you describe what you do to people you meet at a cocktail party?
    “I run a program for Internet business law at Touro, and have been practicing it for more than 15 years.” Straightforward.
  11. When then did you become active on Twitter? What were your objectives when you started? Have they changed?
    I joined Twitter in the fall of 2008, but really became active in the spring of 2009…
    I credit my friends @dcpinkowitz and @jeffpulver (of #140conf fame) with jumpstarting my Twitter use…
    My objectives were and are twofold: to make an impact by providing info & value, and to get info and value….
    What I didn’t expect, though, is how Twitter can be something like an #IRC channel; an ongoing, interactive community…
    Using tools like #Tweetdeck, and hashtag-driven columns, Twitter goes from a firehose to a managed discussion. Very useful.
  12. You also tweet as @ PalmPreLawyer. Why do you use two accounts? Is there a difference in your content?
    With social media, “who you are” is important. Not every one of my followers is interested in the #Palm #Pre and #webos…
    Rather than making them sort through my tweets, I started a separate, non-secret Twitter account for those thoughts…
    (I have a 3rd account that I just use to enter Twitter-based prize promos, so I don’t bug folks with RTs. Have won too!)
  13. Besides Twitter, what other social media / networking tools do you regularly use?
    I use LinkedIn, both to make connections and to build a network as a resource for my students…
    I do use Facebook, but largely for personal stuff. It’s where people my age rediscover their high school/college friends.
  14. What specific impact on referrals and/or client engagements have you realized from Web 2.0 activities?
    No direct client gets (yet), but many new relationships, speaking engagements, writing gigs, etc….
    I’ve also been able to point out resources and opportunities to clients and colleagues, through my own exploration.
  15. How much time do you spend each day developing / enhancing your brand?
    By spending time on Twitter. There’s a direct correlation: the more I tweet (relevantly), the more followers I gain…
    Have to balance, though. #Twitter can be a *huge* time sink. Way too interesting sometimes.
    How much time depends on the day. “Too much” is probably the most accurate answer, though! :)
  16. I hear ya…. Let’s switch gears: what is the most significant issue currently facing the legal profession?
    Demonstrating its value. Between online legal “services” and outsourcing, clients don’t get why they need lawyers…
    Of course, inflexible hourly billing doesn’t help! But especially for transactional (non-litigator) attys, it’s difficult…
    We need to show why our judgment, which can’t be automated or ‘Zoomed, is valuable….
    We also need to constantly reevaluate whether and how we can add value to what our clients do, whatever that may be.
  17. What will the legal landscape look like in 10 years?
    More automated but not automatic. Lawyers will find new ways to provide service, or leave the profession…
    I suspect BigLaw salaries will come down, though law will still be potentially lucrative…Professionalism will be key.
  18. What would you do if you weren’t a lawyer?
    What I’d *like* to be is a science fiction writer, but I don’t really have those stories to tell, unfortunately….
    More likely, I would do the other things I do a little of now: write non-fiction (biz/tech & other subjects) and work in IT.
    (Teaching at a law school, though, is one of the best jobs out there.)
  19. How do you want to be remembered?
    As someone who informed, positively.
  20. What do you do when you’re not working?
    I have 3 kids (ages 8 to 15), all bright, good kids with some special needs. That keeps me busy *grin*….
    Like many other geeks (a title I wear proudly), I read SF and comics. But with technology, “not working” is misleading….
    There’s a reason I have a t-shirt (courtesy of @140tees) that says, “At Work If Awake.” Laptops & smartphones do that.
  21. What advice can you pass along to lawyers currently under- or unemployed due to the economic crisis?
    Just sending resumes is like buying a lottery ticket. Be creative, use social media to create and use connections….
    Having spent some time unemployed myself, I know how scary it can be. I actually did a talk for students on this…
    It’s probably relevant for any lawyer (or other person) looking for jobs. It’s a podcast available at http://j.mp/caTjgZ
  22. And our last question for you: What advice do you have for people going to law school today?
    Law school is one of the best overall educations for Americans, but it’s darned expensive…
    If you can afford to spend the money, go. If you’re borrowing (as I did), make sure you *really* want to be a lawyer…
    If you’re just going to law school to make money, there are better, cheaper and more effective ways to do that….
    If you do go, make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to make connections and distinguish yourself.

That’s great advice. Thanks very much for tweeting with me today; I enjoyed getting to know you.

Likewise. It was much fun, and I look forward to future  interviews! Be well.

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