Commentary

Law Firms Adopt Social Media, Some Faster than Others

There are a lot of lawyers in the U.S., in case you haven’t noticed -- 1.16 million, according to one tally in 2007, or roughly one out of every 300 people -- and American society is correspondingly litigious. With so many lawyers and so many potential litigants out there, social media is a natural channel for law firms to turn for new business and client relationship management, not to mention recruiting and PR. But some law firms are embracing social media faster than others, according to a survey by Vizibility Inc. and LexisNexis reported by Lawyers.com and the LawMarketing Blog.

Overall adoption rates are quite high, with 81% of survey participants saying the use social media for marketing, and another 10.1% saying they plan to begin doing so in the next six months. 31% of respondents said social media tools are “extremely important,” and 48.5% said it is “somewhat important.”

But smaller law firms are embracing social media rather more enthusiastically than their big corporate counterparts -- perhaps because there is more room for younger lawyers to take the lead in new marketing initiatives, aided by a relative lack of cumbersome corporate policies. Among firms with five or fewer attorneys, 71% of respondents said they rely on social media to generate new business. That contrasts with just 37% of respondents from firms with 100 or more attorneys.

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It’s not hard to see why law firms in general might have trouble with social media marketing, considering the heavily-regulated nature of their profession. However the obstacles presented by regulation (including rules about client privacy) can probably be overcome, judging by two other abundantly-regulated industries: healthcare and financial services. In previous posts I wrote about Doximity, a new social network for doctors that allows them to communicate with patients and each other in a HIPAA-compliant fashion. And on the financial services front there’s FMG Social, a service from Faulkner Media Group designed to help financial services firms use social media to get new business and communicate with clients in FINRA-compliant fashion.

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