Tuesday, April 7, 2009

RANT- Lawyers Don't Need Social Media?

"My firm is very interested in launching a new marketing campaign. You should talk to them," Sarah told me after discovering I helped law firms with PR.

I then went on to expound on the powerful tools and searches that can be used on Twitter and Facebook to identify specific leads, and to bring traffic to your blog and website.

"Twitter? I don't think our Estates Practice could really benefit from that; we only work with high-net-worth individuals. We are thinking more along the lines of mailing out a newsletter or something."

"Those old marketing tactics are so outdated," Brian, my friend who works for Omniture, chimed in.

"Well, I just don't think our firm is into Twitter or Facebook."

How common is this? The leaders of large firms, many of them who still think fax machines are a pretty nifty idea, are making the technological decisions for the firm and every individual that is a part of it. Or check this out, the ABA's latest article on GREAT law firm websites. Here it is. The author? A 3rd year law student, Rex Gradeless. He makes some great points- and Senior Partners need to start listening.

Here was another conversation:

"We just want to control the message coming from the firm," a Marketing Director from a medium sized firm told me.

How is that even possible? In a large firm made up of dozens or hundreds of attorneys, each attorney is a brand unto themselves. That's what many firms don't get; as the brand and star rises of each individual attorney, so goes the firm. The firm's marketing committee should be giving the attorneys the support and tools they need to get that message out. They certainly should not be discouraging attorneys from using these cutting-edge tools.

Besides, these are lawyers we are talking about. When doctors were still putting leeches on sick people, lawyers were drafting the United States Constitution. Lawyers have a long history of not just being part of the discussion, but leading the discussion. Applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin aren't just passing fads, they are increasingly becoming the way we communicate. The faster lawyers learn this, the better chance they have of surviving in the new economy.

That's my rant; thanks for reading.


  1. Indeed, the faster we are to adapt, the better chance we all have in this new economy.

    Good post.

  2. There's not really a one size fits all approach. On the one end of the spectrum, you've got the "established lawyers" who don't want or need to overtly market. For them having a website is probably enough. On the other hand, you've got the scrappy up and comers. They could engage in a bit of marketing and maintain a blog, etc.

    Once you get past maintaining a website (which all but the most old-fashioned lawyers agree is standard) the rest is a question of individual circumstance. Do lawyers *need* social media? It depends. Some do and some don't.

    The idea that you must be active on Twitter or a participant in the blogosphere otherwise you will miss the train is silly. One key point about social media. It's a way to influence your brand. It's also hugely transitory, in the sense that the popular channels keep on changing - yesterday blogs, today Twitter, some say Facebook, etc. Tomorrow there will be a "new form" of social media and we start with a somewhat fresh slate. Name one law firm with a branding advantage that ported from blogs to Twitter?

    You could have stood on the sidelines for the past five years, jumped in now and would not have missed the boat. I'd say the same will be true five years from now. Such is the nature of social media.

    @VBalasubramani (on Twitter)

  3. Related to the comment of "we want to control the message" I would ask - does that firm know what's being said about them in these mediums? Equally important. What message/perceptions are being created about/for you without your participation?

  4. Victor- you are absolutely right, there is not one size fits all. Big established firms may not NEED social media right now, but they risk losing market share eroded by players that are just as established- who are using the latest tools. With every client you need to maximize the number of "touches" or comunications you have, by avoiding social media even big firms are missing out on greater communication with clients.

    Esma- thanks! I am sure attorneys will adapt. Social media is far too widespread to ignore.

    Melanie- exactly, people are already talking about your firm, but what are they saying? Most people unfamiliar with the social tools would be amazed by what is out there.

  5. My $.02

    Firms are not only marketing to prospective clients but also to prospective attorneys. With up-and-coming lawyers being much more familiar with the new social media, I have to think that the firms engaging in this practice will have an easier time recruiting top talent.

  6. Some interesting points. It's amazing how many business professionals remain stuck in the dark ages and won't even try technology, even though it;s professionaly recommended to them.

    On another note, if you want some great ideas and advice on getting the most out of getting published, go to www.publishedandprofitable.com. It's a virtual goldmine of information.


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  8. Jeff- I think businesses and firms are just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to the power of social media. Great comment!

    Merrill- Those in control will always fear change, it makes them very uncomfortable. Thanks for the link, I will check out the site.

  9. The developments that social tools bring us are a real challenge for a lot of people in organizations. Understanding the technology is relatively simple, but understanding the implications can be extremely difficult and in some people's views painful (see the marketing director "we want to control the message").

    There are always three groups: One groups is already in your garden (they are sold on your ideas), the second is on the fence and the third on the other side of the fence. Forget the latter! You will never bring them back! Concentrate on the people on the fence.

    Law firms are like lemmings. They do what other law firms or attorneys do. Let them know about lexblogs.com, lextweet.com, all the law firms already on LinkedIn and Twitter. We are currently writing a research report about social networking in the legal sector. There are some very encouraging examples how law firms can use social tools internally and externally to address very specific business needs.

  10. Christopher,

    Great comment, change is very difficult to those in power. Those on the fence (which is becoming a substantial group) or really the only chance of bringing the other group around.

    Those on the fence are coming around, they just can't ignore the buzz surrounding these tools.