This ‘Social Media’ Thing Might Not Be A Fad, Law Firms Acknowledge

Above the Law
August 6, 2013
By Brian Dalton

Seeing as law firms are among Earth’s last enthusiasts of Lotus Notes and fax machines, they can hardly be expected to be on the cutting edge of evolving social media technologies. As social media platforms and blogs were exploding over the last decade, most law firms did not engage. Firms continued to churn out the unread white papers and ignorable client alerts as part of their traditional marketing efforts.

This reluctance or skepticism has waned some in the last couple of years and given way to a wary appreciation of the positive role that LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, and similar sites can play in marketing, recruiting, client support and internal collaboration. A 2012 survey of lawyers and legal marketers by ALM Legal Intelligence attests to this shifting attitude. The survey had some striking findings. Among them:

  • 70 percent of law firms maintain blogs.
  • Nearly 50 percent of firms report that blogging and social networking had helped produce leads for new clients.
  • Around 40 percent said those same efforts had actually helped them land new work.
  • More than half of respondents said that their firms plan to increase their budget for social media initiatives.

Just over 20 percent said their firms already have a full-time social media specialist on staff.

The 2012 In-House Social Media Engagement Survey, jointly conducted by Greentarget, Zeughauser Group and Inside Counsel magazine, found that two-thirds of all in-house counsel have been on LinkedIn in the previous week for professional reasons. The most striking takeaway from this survey was that 76 percent of in-house counsel attribute some level of importance to blogs when deciding which outside firms to retain. From the perspective of law firm decision makers, this is obviously a crucial data point.

Of course, there are some folks who will never “be on board” with social media and will continue to regard its advocates as snake oil salesmen. No doubt many of them are. In any event, there is ample reason to believe that there has been a sea change in the attitudes of law firms as organizations toward social media. But the research previously discussed tells us little about what impact has been felt by the individual within the firm. We thought it would be interesting to get the individual point of view.

Do you feel your firm is using social media technologies effectively? Are you even allowed to use social media while at work? Will there ever be a Twitter flame war between Rodge Cohen and Marty Lipton?

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