BigLaw learn from small law firmsOne bit of intelligence we’ve gleaned from our research in the US and UK is that small law firms are just as active in the social arena (if not more so) than large law firms are. So this year, as we are in the midst of compiling a new Social Law Firm Index, we are going to look more closely at the small and medium law firm segment to get a better understanding of their use of social tools and technology.

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that technology is in the midst of driving huge changes at the small law end of the market. The increasing importance of social media is feeding into this trend because it creates such a powerful platform for reaching and communicating with consumers. This has led to a resurgence in the concept of the law-firm-as-platform company, with a bunch of new start ups entering the market that offer a practice platform or framework for solos and small firms to affiliate with a broader network.

UpCounsel and Law Pal are two of the players experimenting in this concept. While there are limitations and problems with both of these platforms (including the name Law Pal, which sounds like it ought to use sock puppet for a logo), they are at the cutting edge in terms of using technology to deliver cost-effective legal services. Even the venerable old Jacoby & Myers is retooling itself as a tech platform company that provides small practitioners with a suite of tools to help streamline workflow and make practice more efficient.

While there is nothing new in the concept of solos and small firms banding together in a network, the difference now is that technology and social business tools are positioned at the center of the concept – it is the practice platform that holds the concept together. And it is the practice platform over which legal services end up being delivered to clients.

Clearly these are concepts that have application in the world of Big Law as well. The very nature of the firm is changing and this is a trend that is going to continue to transform the entire legal market.The era of The Social Law Firm is here.

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