Lawyers and social media in 2017

Nicole Black, BridgeTower Media Newswires

Until recently, lawyers have been reticent to use social media, insisting that it was a passing fad. However, because social media has increasingly cropped up as important evidence in cases, lawyers' attitudes have begun to change, as they realize that it can be a valuable tool, both in litigation and in marketing.

That's why in 2017, more lawyers and law firms are using social media than ever before. In fact, according to the American Bar Association's most recent Legal Technology Survey Report, 74 percent of law firms now maintain a presence on a social network and 76 percent of lawyers report that they personally use one or more social media networks for professional purposes.

According to the report, lawyers use social media for a number of reasons, ranging from career development/networking (73 percent) and client development (51 percent), to education/current awareness (35 percent) and case investigation (21 percent).

Lawyers under the age of 40 are the most likely to use social media at 88 percent. Next in line are lawyers between the ages of 40-49 years old at 85 percent, then 50- to 59-year-old lawyers at 81 percent, and then lawyers 60 years old or older at 64 percent.

For some lawyers, social media is an effective marketing tool, with 25 percent of lawyers reporting that they've had a client retain them because of their social media activity, up from 19 percent in 2013. Solo attorneys were the most likely to report this (34 percent), while attorneys from large firms (100 or more lawyers) were the least likely at 16 percent.

Blogging is also an important tool for lawyers with 26 percent of lawyers reporting that their law firm maintains a legal blog. For those lawyers who personally maintain a legal blog, 42 percent have had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result of their blogging.

The most popular social network for lawyers is LinkedIn. Presumably lawyers are more comfortable with LinkedIn compared to other social networks due to its focus on professional issues rather than social. According to the report, a whopping 91 percent of firms of 100 or more attorneys have a presence on LinkedIn, followed by 85 percent of solos, 76 percent of mid-sized firms with 10-49 lawyers, and 63 percent of smaller firms with 2-9 lawyers.

Nearly 80 percent of all individual lawyers have a profile on Linkedin as well, with solos and lawyers from mid-sized firms leading the way, with 99 percent of lawyers from firms with 10-49 lawyers using LinkedIn and 91 percent of solos. In third place were lawyers from firms of 2-9 lawyers at 85 percent.

Facebook is also a popular social network for lawyers, with many lawyers reporting that they use it for personal reasons only, including 89 percent of solos, 89 percent of lawyers from small firms, 82 percent of attorneys from mid-sized firms, and 80 percent from large firms of 100 or more. The most active lawyers on Facebook for professional purposes are solos at 48 percent, followed by 41 percent of lawyers from small firms (2-9 attorneys). Mid-sized firms with 10-49 lawyers were next at 22 percent, with lawyers at firms with 100 or more lawyers came in last at 16 percent.

The least popular network among lawyers is Twitter, with only 21 percent of lawyers reporting that their firms maintain a presence on Twitter. And only 25 percent of respondents report that they personally maintain a presence on Twitter. When it comes to lawyers maintaining a personal presence on Twitter, lawyers from mid-sized firms lead the way with 26 percent maintaining a Twitter account, followed by 25 percent of solos, 25 percent of large firm lawyers, and 24 percent of small firm lawyers.

So that's how your colleagues are using social media in 2017. How does your social media use compare?

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Nicole Black is a director at MyCase.com, a cloud-based law practice management platform. She is also of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester and is a GigaOM Pro analyst. She is the author of the ABA book "Cloud Computing for Lawyers," coauthors the ABA book "Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier," and co-authors "Criminal Law in New York," a West-Thomson treatise. She speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes three legal blogs and can be reached at niki@ mycase.com.

Published: Fri, Feb 17, 2017

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