Nils Montan Leverages Relationships Online

by Jayne Navarre on July 20, 2010

Nils Victor Montan, Of Counsel, Dannemann Seimsen, Brazil

“Social media totally changed my professional life,” wrote Nils Montan when we chatted via LinkedIn.

Like many people, Nils, an Intellectual Property lawyer with the Brazilian law firm of Dannemann Seimsen, he first became involved in social media, two years ago, through Facebook, using the platform for purely personal reasons. He had just moved outside the United States and wanted to keep in touch with friends back home, only to find that many of his friends were not as active on Facebook as he had hoped.

Still, as he started to post articles and comment about his interests, he noticed that there were people from all over the world who were willing to share their thoughts and insights with him.  He began to build relationships with a few of those people, and to his surprise, those relationships seemed as intimate and important as a “real world” friendship.

From Facebook Nils migrated to LinkedIn and discovered the platform that he believes is the single best way to network in the professional world.  He started his journey on LinkedIn by building contacts and joining a few groups. A result of his early experience, he saw that social media was going to have an important impact on the practice of law, he so he started the LinkedIn group, Law and Social Networking. Within seven months the Group has 650 members and 115 open discussions with over 62 comments. His activity produced five new clients for his firm in the last year and numerous “connections” that he believes may lead to business.

Nils doesn’t believe lawyers are doing anything really new in developing business, as lawyers have been networking for two thousand years. But the media they use to network is totally new—particularly digital media, at least for Nils, who considers himself more of a marketing person than a traditional lawyer at this point, all because of social media.

“First attorneys joined business associations to meet significant business leaders.  Bar and trade associations followed.  In my case, most of my business is conducted on-line. Without social media, I wouldn’t have a business now.  Social Media is how I find people. In due course, I like to ‘graduate’ a connection to a phone call and, if I can, an in-person meeting.”

Nils employs a strategy of broad exposure across the many social-media platforms, and it seems to be paying off. In many cases, Nils reports that clients found him as opposed to vice-versa. In addition to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, he has launched two independent social networking membership sites, Law & Social Networking ( and IP Ally (  Says Nils: “The broader your exposure, the more likely it is that people will find you. Although to a great extent the practice of law is territorial, social media has allowed the legal profession to break geographic limitations when it comes to the marketing of services.”

The only limitation in Nil’s experience is that the increasing “noise” in social media is making it harder to find the most valuable sources, sites and connections. He is afraid that as the social media space gets over-saturated with “offers,” “top ten tips,” and webinars, the goose that laid the golden egg may be killed.

Still, he’s got his career firmly planted in the social online medium, having converted his law practice of 30 years—which included private practice with law firms, fourteen years as Vice President and Senior Intellectual Property Counsel with Warner Bros., and two years as the President of the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition (“IACC”)—into a full-time marketing practice for his firm.

His advice for others, “Invest the time. Social media marketing is not a quick fix. It may take years to develop a reputation that will brand you as a professional, and that will draw clients to you.”

You can find Nils at Dannemann Siemsen, on LinkedIn at, or join one of his social networks, www.lawandsocialnetworking or Follow him on Twitter @nilsmontan. (Nils also served as a Member of the Board of Directors, an Officer and the President of the International Trademark Association.) For book lovers, I highly suggest Nil’s non-business LinkedIn group, Book Fanatics.

Excerpted from the forthcoming book, social.lawyers | transforming business development, by Jayne Navarre to be published in Fall 2010 by Thomson.

Nils Victor Montan, Esq. (Of Counsel, Dannemann Siemsen, Brazil) in discussion with the author, May 2010.

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