27 Jan 2021

Clubhouse - the new social media destination for lawyers?

Audio-only app popular with celebrities offers a warm and welcoming space to discuss ideas, says Simon Marshall

Clubhouse drop in audio chat application view on the smartphone.

By Yalcin Sonat: Shutterstop

This week, I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of a high-powered general counsel who lives and works on the other side of the world. In 2021, that may come and no surprise, I guess. But it was because we shared the view that lawyers need to consider delivering the talks and events on the new social media platform Clubhouse.

What is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse is a new audio-only social media platform. Its content is entirely ephemeral. There are no recordings, no notes, no option to direct message other people. It works like this: a 'room' is hosted by a moderator. There are three parts to the room: a stage where the moderator(s) sit and guest speakers can be invited to join; the front row of seats which are filled by the people that the speakers follow, and the back row for drop ins, new people and the generally interested. Clubhouse is invitation only and currently only on apple devices, but will be on Android very soon.

Why is there a Clubhouse craze?

Because people are tired of trolls and fake news and negativity. Clubhouse offers a warm and welcoming space to discuss ideas, ask questions and share experiences. People are doing amazing things in their rooms and I've heard of deals being done as a result of the conversations taking place in there. The fact that it's like citizens' band radio means that you have to be there to hear what's said. It's a little bit like the Wild West right now, but it has the potential to blossom into something amazing too.

Will Clubhouse replace Facebook and LinkedIn?

My sense is that it complements LinkedIn so well and offers something that is adjoined to that professional platform, so needs to be used in addition to your LinkedIn strategy. Have you ever wanted to get into the nuts and bolts of an issue with a few people and have an audience attend? You can create that in seconds now on Clubhouse. Take that GDPR issues and reactive marketing teams.

Are there challenges for lawyers being on Clubhouse?

Definitely. You need to be clear that you're not providing advice. You also need to be mindful of conflicts. But it's essentially like your best-ever webinar. If you set it up, the audience will come. In fact, they're already on there waiting for your expertise.

Why should lawyers get on Clubhouse as soon as possible?

Beyond the initial wave of celebrities (no, really – I have heard a few speak and it's refreshing) and "millionaires' clubs", Clubhouse now has the perfect platform for experts to really demonstrate their expertise. You'll notice that I wrote "demonstrate". That's because the best formats on Clubhouse are probably the Q&A session (sometimes known as #AskMeAnything or #AMA) or the How Can I Help? sessions where a convivial moderator leads a series of experts through a topic discussion and asks audience members to ask questions and share experiences.

I recently asked Sarah Walker-Smith of Top 50 law firm Shakespeare Martineau how she spent her time on LinkedIn (she's the top-rated top 100 law firm leader on LinkedIn). She said that half of her time on LinkedIn was spent learning and trying to move the industry forward. Same answer for me on Clubhouse. If you want to show people that you really mean it when you say you're client-led, it's a great place to hang out. If you want to broadcast, well, you probably won't have too many people in your audience. They vote with their ears, and quickly.

The pioneers are on there already

We already have legaltech experts onboard, as you'd expect. It can't be long until graduate recruitment teams come on board too. We have lots of US lawyers ambulance chasing but also sharing deeply personal experiences in a way that felt foreign to Brits only a few years ago. But the time is now if, say, you're an employment lawyer who wants to target a certain sector. Or an IP lawyer who works with early stage tech companies (as they're all on there). Or a private wealth lawyer. Or… well, you see what I'm saying. It's probably not one for blue-blooded capital markets partners, but who knows?

What are the rules of etiquette when you first join?

Follow some people. Sit in the back seats for a session or two. Read the room. Stick to the room's rules – many of which don't want you to speak for hours if you've been invited up from the audience. That's the most likely way that you'll get kicked back into the audience, so best avoided. My advice is to ask a question that you genuinely don't know the answer to. Everyone will find it so refreshing.

How do you join Clubhouse?

You need to bag yourself an invitation from an existing member. Drop me a line and I'll see if I have an invitation or two spare. You'll also need an iPad or an iPhone. A Mac won't cut it. A quick reminder that Clubhouse needs you as much as you need it. It will flourish if you come on board and share your expertise. And I warrant that your LinkedIn posts get better and more traction as a result too.

If you'd like to know what you should be doing on LinkedIn on 2021 as a lawyer/law firm, then please join this Global Legal Post Masterclass, which I am hosting.

If you'd like to hear me on Clubhouse – I'll be the one interviewing GCs and sharing legal marketing tips. Find me at @simonpmarshall. 

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