Findings from the 2013 social law firm study and white paper This is the first in a series of posts that will highlight some of the findings of the Social Law Firm Study and White Paper. The study was jointly conducted by Above the Law and Good2bSocial from June-October 2013. This White Paper, “The Social Law Firm” reflects how U.S. law firms are using Social Business technologies (including Social Media and Enterprise Collaboration tools) and practices as part of their business operations both internally and with clients and prospects. Our research was focused on the 50 largest firms in the U.S. as identified by The American Lawyer in 2013. This white paper is the first part; the second part, The Social Law Firm Index™ which will rank the firms in order of their effectiveness will be released in early January.
U.S. law firms are at the very early stages of use and deployment of Social Business technologies and practices. This early stage is characterized by a nearly universal recognition by large law firms of the growing importance of social technologies for external marketing and business development purposes. As part of their initial efforts to establish a social media presence, the majority of large law firms have demonstrated a willingness to devote substantial resources to create valuable, non-promotional content to populate their social media properties. However, in the majority of cases, large law firms are ineffective in their use of social media, achieving low levels of reach and engagement relative to the resources available and the market opportunity. Moreover, the use of Social Business technologies and practices for internal collaboration and communication among large law firms is in its infancy. Only a single respondent to our large law firm survey indicated that their firm had established an enterprise social network. There is a very low-level of adoption and deployment at the practice group level as well.
A majority of Am Law 50 firms recognize the importance of social media marketing and are devoting substantial resources to establishing their firm’s social media presence.
While the majority of the Am Law 50 have established their presence on public social media platforms, their presence is inconsistent at best and often evidences only a token effort. This demonstrates a low-level of understanding as to social media best practices. Firms’ messaging and positioning lack cohesion and there is little evidence that law firms are addressing the social media landscape strategically rather than using it as just another marketing channel.
The majority of large law firms that currently make use of social media have a very low-level of engagement with the public through their own websites and through public social networks.
Our findings suggest that most large law firms do not use social networks strategically or view them as opportunities for engagement. Instead, firms continue to view social media as nothing more than a distribution channel for firm news and press releases. This alone explains why firms achieve such low levels of engagement. At first glance, an average of 76 Twitter mentions per firm may seem to be an impressive number. However, further analysis shows that most of those mentions come from law firm content distribution services like JD Supra and Mondaq and are therefore not indicative of actual mentions and re-tweets by engaged individuals.
It is clear from our study that law firms have a significant amount of work ahead in order to fully leverage their use of social technologies for marketing and business development purposes. Corporate America is already investing heavily in tools and processes to transform their companies into social businesses; law firm clients will soon be demanding the same from their legal counsel and they need to be prepared in order to respond.
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