socialmedThe collection and tabulation of data for the 2014 Law Firm Social Index is now nearing completion. This year we’ve expanded our coverage to provide a ranking of the top 100 U.S. firms. The ranking is based on a scoring system we developed last year (together with our research partners at Above the Law) that takes into account a range of objective criteria to assess the reach, engagement and overall effectiveness of each firm’s social media presence.

The full Index and rankings should be ready for publication by the end of March. In the meantime, we are still collecting supplementary data through an online reader survey on Above the Law. We are hoping to collect responses from a broad market cross-section, particularly from lawyers practicing at small and mid-sized firms not otherwise covered in the Index’s formal ranking. As we learned in last year’s survey, some of the more interesting uses of social business technology are taking place among smaller and more entrepreneurial firms. So if your firm has been actively using social business technology to drive business development and innovative client service projects, please take a moment to fill out the survey by clicking here.

For now, we want to share with you a few of the more salient findings from this year’s research.

Finding No. 1: Large law firms in the U.S. substantially increased their efforts and the resources they are devoting to social media marketing in the last 12 months. The survey reveals that these increased efforts translated into substantially improved social media performance across the board. From 2013 to 2014 the survey indicates that on average the top 50 firms improved both the reach and audience engagement levels by more than 60%, with a result that the average Social Index scores for the AmLaw 50 in jumped from 27.8 to 48.8.

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Finding No. 2: The improvement in performance among large law firms was broad based, with firms in bottom half of the 2013 ranking showing the most marked improvement. (The lower half of the AmLaw 50 improved from an average Social Index score of 16.3 in 2013 to an average Social Index score of 42.0 in 2014). This suggests that the overall improvement reflects something of a great leap forward by firms that had been lagging behind, rather than evidencing a huge improvement among the firms that were already active in the social arena.

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Finding No. 3: A few firms that had a negligible social media presence in 2013 showed a very dramatic improvement in their performance, jumping significantly higher in the rankings as a result of initiatives implemented in the last 12 months. Three firms that managed to improve most this year were Wachtell Lipton (whose Index score jumped by 1093%), Simpson Thacher (with an Index score +800%) and Debevoise (which increased its score by 291%). At the same, none of the firms we surveyed showed a decrease in their Social Index score and only one firm remained flat year over year.

And now a drum roll please. Here are the top ten firms in the 2014 Law Firm Social Index:

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Congratulations to DLA Piper for dominating this Index for the second straight year. Other repeat appearances on this list are Hogan Lovells, Latham, Greenberg Traurig, and Reed Smith. Each of these firms is a global behemoth: Winston & Strawn is No. 39 on Am Law’s list of largest firms by gross revenue and the rest of these firms are in the top 20. These firms apparently take advantage of the benefits of scale to establish a broader digital footprint.

So stay tuned for the full findings from our 2014 research together with the complete law firm rankings that will be publishing in the coming months. And if you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to fill out our online Social Business Survey to make our research data more complete.

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