Daily Court Reporter - News Keeping up with the times, many attorneys now embrace social media
Keeping up with the times, many attorneys now embrace social media
ELISSA COLLOPY, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
Several years ago, social media use was still being debated at law firms - there were concerns of security lapses, breaches of confidentiality and staff wasting valuable time.
However, times are changing and engagement with social media has become a functional imperative for all law firms.
According to the American Bar Association's latest technology survey, lawyers are experimenting with social media and online marketing more than ever.
So now the question is not whether law firms can engage with social media, but how?
Social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide a quick and inexpensive way for law firms to keep in touch with clients, keep an eye on competitors and keep updated with industry news.
The association's survey focused on topics such as the use of blogging and social media by the respondents themselves and by their firms.
So how can lawyers benefit from this information?
Blogging is an effective way for lawyers to generate traffic, demonstrate their expertise, develop relationships with strategic alliances, referral sources and potential clients, create resources for clients and more, according to Allison Shields, president of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc.
However, she mentions this is both time consuming and a commitment.
"An outdated or abandoned blog can leave a worse impression than no blog at all," she said.
For the past four years, the percentage of firms that report their firms have a blog has remained statistically steady at approximately 26 percent, according to the report.
Not surprisingly, she said, the larger firms are more likely to report that their firms have blogs - 56 percent of lawyers from firms of 100 or more attorneys reported that their firms had blogs, including 60 percent from firms of 500-plus attorneys and 52 percent from firms of 100 to 499 attorneys.
When it comes to blogging, Shields mentioned two advantages of larger firms over smaller firms: they often have in-house marketing departments to help identify topics of interest, draft and edit blog posts, interview lawyers and take care of the actual posting of content; and they have more lawyers to divvy up the workload of running the blog.
In addition to blogging, social media usage by lawyers is on the rise.
Overall, 74 percent of respondents reported that their firms maintained a presence in social networks, while 26 percent reported that their firms do not maintain a presence, and 10 percent reported they don't know.
According to the report, respondents reported presences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Martindale and LawLink.
Of those sites, LinkedIn remains the most popular network among lawyers, according to Shields.
Of respondents whose firms maintain a presence on social networks, 91 percent of firms of 100 plus attorneys maintain a presence on the site.
Facebook then follows, with small firms taking the number one spot for usage of the site (62 percent.)
So why are attorneys using these tools?
According to the report, 72 percent of respondents said they personally maintain a legal topic blog for client development and 44 percent do it for career development or networking.
Of those maintaining a legal blog, 42 percent said they had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result of the blog.
As for social media, the most popular reason cited by respondents is career development and networking at 73 percent.
Client development ranked number two, as well as for education and current awareness in the legal profession.
The survey listed a 42 percent success rate for blogs and 25 percent for all social media use.
To grow readers and clientele, lawyers should participate and provide value in content, according to the report.
"Two of the strengths of blogging and social media for professional purposes are creating conversation with potential clients and referral sources, and demonstrating expertise by providing value," the report stated.
By demonstrating an expertise through posts, group discussions and comments, lawyers let potential clients get to know more about you before contacting you, said Shields.
"To improve engagement, you must interact, provide and share content, link to others' posts and content, and like and comment on social media sites and blogs," she said. "All of this interaction will not only bring you to the attention of those with whom you interact directly, but it will improve your visibility as well."
With all of these developments, lawyers must be more strategic and determine their purpose for blogging or participating in social media.
"As the world of blogging and social media matures, so must lawyers' use of these tools in order to gain the most value from them," she said.
Date Published: March 23, 2017