So Why Haven’t They?
In 2012, the International Bar Association published a paper examining how social media could impact on the legal profession. The key takeaway? Legal professionals and students were extremely concerned about how social media could affect their image and credibility in the workplace. Hardly surprising as the legal profession is quite conservative and doesn’t adapt quickly to change. Something as revolutionary as social media (where clients can actually speak to you directly!!) would put the frighteners up most of them as it’s not something they can control. So why don’t law firms use social media?
Apart from issues of personal social media use, there was a small divide as to whether social media could be used in court proceedings as evidence (two years later and this is no longer a question).
So how have things developed since then? Bearing in mind that in 2012, there seemed to be some degree of interest in the potential of social media, one would expect that many of the top law firms have jumped on board and got social!
Over 75% of respondents considered the advantages of online social networking to outweigh its disadvantages
So in the last two years, all the big law firms globally are using social media as part of their overall strategy and get impressive results, right?
Is Anyone Doing It?
Browsing the world’s top law firms shows low engagement and reach overall. Baker & McKenzie is one of the top five practices in terms of billing (earning $2.5 billion last year alone). This success sadly doesn’t transfer to its digital presence: 4,250 Twitter followers and 2,951 Facebook fans, not that Facebook is the right platform for engagement!
It’s Twitter account, on the other hand, should be the perfect platform for communication and awareness. But a mix of self-promotion and retweets isn’t enough to earn an interested following. Whoever is managing this account obviously understands the importance of promoting content and events, but has no interest in engaging with it’s audience. All I see is a lot of links, and not much else.
It would appear that Baker & McKenzie focus its online attention on LinkedIn, posting relevant and visual content frequently.
It doesn’t seem to have a main Slideshare, although one of its online training associates has a profile with 8 followers. Several individual employees and associates are also on the site. The variation in followers, number of slides and recent activity varies greatly, which mirrors what seems to be a big trend in the law industry’s social media:
The real winners are individual lawyers and legal professionals who have built up their social credentials themselves.
Which law firms use social media correctly?
A local example is Simon McGarr. His personal Twitter is one of the best arguments for mixing law and social. It’s humorous but often industry driven. Appropriate in his humour, McGarr has built up an impressive following due to tweets that both entertain and inform.
Another example of this new wave of Twitter lawyers is David Allen Green from the UK. He is popular on Twitter for being outspoken and on legal affairs and newsworthy stories. His dry sense of humour helps as well.
Transgressing the boundaries of social media and law has earned him a loyal following of over 10,000 which laughs in the face of most of the global firms.
Despite the links to social accounts ranking high in searches for Baker & McKenzie, there’s a lesson to be learnt. Most of the big firms are almost there, but not quite. Using Facebook for graduate recruitment isn’t getting the engagement it desires, while Twitter profiles have low counts. Most of them seem to be huddling around LinkedIn, but let’s face it – there is room for so much more!
Every industry needs a leader in social media, but right now there is no serious contender in the law. Sadly, it seems that none of our learned friends have stepped up.
If you are in the legal profession, and see the opportunities and would like to chat about this more, get in touch with us! We are passionate about social media and even more passionate about shaking things up, so let’s collaborate.
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