@ Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield

by Ryan McKeen

Recently I was a panelist at the CT Bar Foundation’s Legal Tech Symposium. One of the lawyers on my panel couldn’t understand why lawyers or anybody would want to use Facebook. She called it narcissistic and voyeuristic.  And she’s right….to a point. But she also misses the point in a big way.

But I disagree with her. Lawyers should embrace sites like twitter and Facebook. My reasons have nothing to do with caring about what someone had for lunch or sharing my lunch on the internet.

Last Friday, the Judiciary Committee was reviewing superior court nominees. New Haven representative Gary Holder-Winfield is a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Earlier this year, the CT Mirror named Representative Winfield “rookie of the year”.  Representative Holder-Winfield embraces social media and uses it as a tool to both engage and inform the public.

You can find Gary on Twitter by clicking here.

Gary first came to my attention last year when he was discussing the death penalty with legal bloggers on twitter. He welcomed discussion.

Most politicians use twitter to tout an endorsement or inform the public of their whereabouts. Their tweets, particularly those running for Governor, lack substance and authenticity.  They don’t want to listen or respond – they want to inform. They should take a lesson from Representative Holder-Winfield.

Last Friday, Representative Holder-Winfield posted a link to Judiciary testimony on CT-N and encouraged people to watch. He would update both his Facebook and twitter pages and let the public know who was testifying. It’s 21st century grassroots government and it costs the state nothing.

Anyhow, I was in the office last Friday afternoon wrapping up the week.  I clicked on the link to listen to the testimony of those who I may someday call “your honor”.  I listened to the testimony as I went through my mail and got caught up on a few motions.

At one point Representative Holder-Winfield started asking questions about a specific topic that was of some interest to me.

You know what I did? I sent him a message on twitter. He responded. We went back and forth for a few 140 character messages about a legal issue.

How cool is that?

The more representatives who follow Representative Holder-Winfield’s lead and embrace social media as a way of sharing and receiving information the better off we’ll all be. Make no mistake about it, Holder-Winfield is a leader when it comes to unlocking the vast democratic potential of technology.

Lawyers who dismiss social media are missing out on opportunities to stay informed and inform others on our laws.

Twitter is about much more than what somebody had for lunch. It’s about staying on top of legal developments and informing our lawmakers.

And keep up the great work Gary. You’re on to something.