Lawyers and Social Media in 2016
Social media has been part of our daily lives for nearly a decade. At first, many lawyers were skeptical, believing that social media offered little value to their practices. But over the years, as social media has enmeshed itself into our culture, the effects of it upon our day-to-day lives is indisputable. Social media impacts both our personal and professional lives, a fact that many lawyers are finally accepting.
That’s why lawyers are increasingly acknowledging the importance of understanding--and using--social media. For some lawyers, especially litigators, it's because social media is a tool that helps them provide better representation to their clients. Whether it's mining social media for evidence or researching jurors online, social media is helping them to make their clients' cases in court.
Some lawyers are using social media for business development while others are interacting online for networking purposes. In fact, according to the results of the most recent ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, more lawyers than ever are using online tools and social networks to forward their professional goals. The results from the 2015 report show that lawyers are participating on social media more than ever before, with solo and small firm attorneys often leading the way, although large firm lawyers occasionally lead the pack.
For example, according to the report, 85% of law firms have a website and 76% of law firms now maintain an online presence compared to only 55% in 2012. Lawyers report that they interact online for a variety of reasons, with career development and networking leading the way (71%), followed by client development (48%), education and current awareness (45%), and case investigation (24%).
Lawyers with the following practice areas are most likely to have personal social media profiles for work-related purposes: commercial and corporate (80% each), contracts (79%), and litigation and employment/labor (77% each).
When it comes to the specific social media sites, LinkedIn is the most popular with 57% of law firms and 73% of lawyers reporting a presence on Linkedin. Next is Facebook, where 35% of firms have a Facebook page and 27% of lawyers maintain a personal profile on Facebook. Twitter comes in third, with 21% of firms using Twitter and 23% of lawyers using it for professional purposes. And Google Plus comes in last, with 10% of firms and 9% of lawyers reporting a Google Plus presence.
But are their efforts paying off? 24% of lawyers report that they've been retained by a client because of their social media efforts, so all signs point to yes.
Lawyers are blogging as well with 26% of law firms maintaining a legal blog, up from 22% in 2012. 7% of individual lawyers also maintained a blog for professional purposes in 2015 compared to 9% in 2012. Managing partners were most likely to maintain a legal blog for professional purposes (11%), followed by solo practitioners (9%), and associates (7%). Partners were the least likely to report they maintain a legal blog for professional purposes (4%).
According to the report, lawyers spend 1.9 hours per week updating/maintaining their personal legal blog and 39% have been retained by a client because of their blogging.
So, the results of the survey indicate that, without a doubt, lawyers are recognizing the benefits of interacting online and are increasingly using social media and other online tools to create connections and market their practices. And, even more importantly, their efforts are paying off.
It’s a far cry from when I first began encouraging lawyers to blog in 2007. Back then, I was often met with blank stares. My how times have changed! It’s a whole new online world out there and lawyers are finally taking advantage of the many business development and networking opportunities the Internet has to offer.
Nicole Black is a Rochester, New York attorney and the Legal Technology Evangelist at MyCase, intuitive web-based law practice management software for the modern law firm. She is also the author of the ABA book Cloud Computing for Lawyers, co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, and co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.