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Tweet to success: Michael Bradley on recruiting in the Twittersphere

Tweet to success: Michael Bradley on recruiting in the Twittersphere

This year, Marque Lawyers decided to recruit their summer clerks via Twitter. Now, managing partner and chief judge of tweets Michael Bradley tells us how it went and what they learned.

This year, Marque Lawyers decided to recruit their summer clerks via Twitter. Now, managing partner and chief judge of tweets Michael Bradley tells us how it went and what they learned.

MARQUING THE WAY: A 'post-modern' tweet from

Marque Lawyer's summer clerkship campaign

Marque Lawyers conducted its summer clerkship recruitment campaign this year exclusively via Twitter. It proved to be a fascinating exercise in the potential of social media for interactive engagement in more serious matters than the name of Beyoncé's baby, and a reminder of what law school teaching does to students' brains.

We launched the campaign with an open house party and then spent a week getting the word out virally that we were going with Twitter. That was successful in the sense that our number of followers increased from 70 to 500 in a few days.

The actual process consisted of us tweeting a question each morning and then sitting back and letting the Twittersphere have its say during the course of the day. We then selected the top tweets of each day, and ended the week with 43 candidates who we invited to send us a proper application.

We'll interview about half of them, and ultimately offer two clerkships (one of which is called the GetUp! Clerkship, because it's being funded by GetUp! and that clerk will mainly be doing policy work for GetUp! over the summer).

The first day's question was, "What's your favourite cheese?" While we had thought it would be obvious that we don't care what anybody's favourite cheese actually is, and that the students might not take the question literally, pretty much 100 per cent of them did exactly that. We found out a lot about individual cheese preferences, but the day very quickly degenerated into a festival of excruciatingly bad cheese puns - mostly involving Gouda or feta, although "fromage à trois" was a winner.

The other interesting feature, which stayed with us all week, was the ability of law students to find sexual innuendo in pretty much anything we said. This was entertaining, but didn't get anyone a job.

On day two we asked, "Should it be Kochie and Mel, or Mel and Kochie?" Again, we figured we'd get some lateral tweeting on the broader issues of gender and sexual politics, but no such luck. So on day three, we dispensed with language altogether and posted a photo of a stuffed chicken standing next to a Marque-branded log (pictured). This was self-evidently post-modernist, or more likely devoid of meaning altogether, but the absence of direction did bring results. We got a lot of philosophical musing and some really hilarious tweets.

The tweeting numbers stayed up all week, although one could sense rising levels of panic among some of the regular tweeters as they saw others make the cut and redoubled their efforts to attract our attention. If they were trying to detect any science in our selection criteria, it was hopeless because we just went with whatever tickled us.

Reading all the tweets (it was a low productivity week in our office), we couldn't help but get involved emotionally. We were rooting for some tweeters, hoping they'd come up with something that got them through. It was a bizarre conversation to be having, of course, not at all like a normal recruitment process, but we're not at all sure it was any less effective.

"The day very quickly degenerated into a festival of excruciatingly bad cheese puns - mostly involving Gouda or feta, although "fromage à trois" was a winner"

What did we learn? Law students, like lawyers, find it difficult and threatening to break the mould and stand out. There was a distinct trend each day as most people clearly, unconsciously, convinced themselves that there were rules to follow. But those rules didn't exist. So, along with having to convey a thought in 140 characters, which isn't many, this proved a massive challenge to many. That was interesting, and points to the downside of how law has always been taught - there are strengths to being able to contemplate issues in a rational, linear and literal fashion, but creativity and lateral thinking are clearly diminished along the way.

Twitter is an exciting domain. That, in the space of a week, we could engage with over 400 law students and have an interactive conversation, admittedly about some pretty random and meaningless topics, gives some small sense of the immense potential which social media has as a forum for dialogue, engagement and knowledge sharing. We're hooked.

Michael Bradley is the managing partner of Marque Lawyers

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