social media benefits for law firmsThe MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte have released their joint 2014 Social Business Global Executive Research Study. The major theme discussed in the report is the growing maturity of social business practices in the corporate world as more and more companies are moving beyond the marketing-focused orientation that characterizes the earlier stages of social business development and deployment. (Click here to download a copy of the report.)

While the study addresses the broad corporate marketplace, there are a couple of points that have relevance to the legal market. Most notably, the report acknowledges that social business has assumed an equal level of importance among B-to-B companies as B-to-C, where it first began to flourish

The report further notes that the majority of companies surveyed are actively pursuing business use cases far afield of the marketing department, which most often served as the initial focus of their social business initiatives. The survey found that 87% of the respondents were using social technology to spur innovation; 83% were using it as a management and training tool; and 60% of the corporations surveyed were actively integrating social business tools into various aspects of their day-to-day business operations.

So on both scores, we think this provides some direct support for our own contention – namely that the ultimate payoff for law firms in using social business technology is that more and more corporate clients are primed and ready to use a social business platform for the delivery of legal services. We’ve seen the first signs of this happening as we discuss in the case studies included in The Social Law Firm Index. In short, this is a huge client service opportunity for lawyers waiting to happen – namely to develop social tools and methods for undertaking your legal practice.

What the MIT Deloitte study also suggests is that social business is just like many other aspects of life – the thought and effort you put into your social business deployment will most often turn out to be the key determinant in the amount of benefit that you realize from it. In the words of the study – social business maturity translates into value. “The higher respondents rate their companies on a social business maturity scale, the more likely they are to report that social business creates real value.”

On the basic social business maturity scale, then, our research indicates that U.S. law firms are still at a pretty early stage. I’d say it’s basically like a pre-adolescent stage of development — just shy of an initial awakening. It’s worth noting that U.K. firms seem to be a little more advanced than U.S. firms — more socially savvy, if not downright sophisticated. We’re just about to publish a new white paper study of the U.K. legal market with our partners the Ark Group. We’ll let you know as soon as the report becomes available.

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