In 2018, social media is ever-present. People turn to social media sites for a host of reasons. Whether it’s to catch up on the news, to find out the latest on family and friends, to shop, or to locate a business or restaurant, social media is a primary source of information.
Although social media has pervaded our culture for more than a decade now, the legal profession wasn’t always on board. In the beginning, lawyers were suspicious of social media and resisted what many believed to be short-lived fad. Over time, as it became clear that social media was here to stay, their attitude changed and an increasing number of attorneys became interested in learning about, and using, social media for business development and professional networking purposes.
The results of the American Bar Association’s 2017 Legal Technology Survey show that this trend continues, with more lawyers from firms of all sizes interacting online. From blogging and LinkedIn to Facebook and Twitter, the legal profession’s use of social media continues to increase.
Lawyers on social media
First, let’s consider social media. An impressive 81% of lawyers surveyed indicated that they’ve personally used social media for professional purposes, while 77% reported that their firms also maintained a social media presence.
Although you might think younger lawyers would be most active on social media, the survey results belie that assumption. In fact, the lawyers most likely to maintain a personal presence on social media were 40-49 years olds (93%). Next were attorneys 40 years and under (90%), followed by those who were 50-59 (86%), and finally, those 60 or older (73%).
Another interesting survey result was that lawyers of different practice areas engaged on social media at different rates. Employment and labor law lawyers were most active at 89%, followed by personal injury at 84%, litigation at 84%, commercial law at 82%, and contract law at 81%.
The reasons lawyers used social media varied. The most popular reason was career development and networking(67%), followed by client development (56%), education and current awareness (39%), and case investigation (21%).
Lawyers’ favorite social media networks
The social network lawyers used most often for professional purposes was LinkedIn, with 90% of lawyers indicating that they had a LinkedIn profile. Facebook was next at 40%, followed by Twitter at 26%.
Of those lawyers who personally used social media for professional purposes, 81% were solos, 89% were from firms of 2-9 attorneys, 92% were from firms of 10-49, and 99% were from firms of 100 or more attorneys.
According to the Report, of those lawyers who use Facebook for professional purposes, solos were most likely at 55%. Next up was lawyers from firms of 2-9 attorneys (47%), followed by lawyers at firms of 10-49 attorneys (32%), and 24% of attorneys from firms of 100+.
Of those lawyers who used Twitter, lawyers from firms with 100 or more lawyers led the way at 45%, followed by lawyers from firms of 500+ (29%), firms of 2-9 (29%), firms of 10-49 (25%), solos (22%), and those from firms with 50-99 attorneys (17%).
And finally, 8% of all lawyers use Google Plus. Solos were the most likely (12%), followed by attorneys from firms of 2-9 attorneys (7%), 100 or more attorneys (3%), and 10-49 lawyers (1%).
Of those lawyers using social media, 27% have had a client retain their legal services directly or via referral as a result of their use of social media. Lawyers in firms of 2-9 lawyers were the most likely to report that a client retained them because of their social media presence (33%), followed by solo lawyers (32%), lawyers from firms of 10-49 lawyers (22%), and lawyers from firms of 100 or more lawyers (18%).
Lawyers and blogging
Then, there are blogs. Law firms of all sizes now maintain blogs. 71% of firms with 500 or more attorneys maintain at least one law firm blog (compared with 60% in 2016, 58% in 2015, and 62% in 2014). Next up is firms with 100-499 attorneys at 71% (compared with 52% in 2016, 53% in 2015, and 47% in 2014), followed by mid-sized firms with 10-49 attorneys at 38%, then small firms with 2-9 lawyers at 25%, and solo law firms at 15%. The practice area sections within firms that were most likely to maintain a blog were employment and labor law at 33%, personal injury law at 32%, and litigation at 31%.
When it came to lawyers who personally maintained a blog for professional reasons, the numbers were flipped. Solo lawyers were the most likely to do so at 15%. Next were 11% of lawyers from firms of 2-9 lawyers, 11% of lawyers from firms of 100 or more attorneys, and 10% of lawyers from firms of 10-49 attorneys.
Lawyers blogged for a number of reasons, with client development leading the way at 76%, followed by the enjoyment of writing and outreach (47%), and career development and networking (47%). Finally, 43% reported that they’ve had a client retain their services because of their blogging efforts.
So that’s how lawyers are using – and benefiting from – social media and blogging in 2018. How is your law firm using social media? How successful have your efforts been?
If you’re not happy with your online efforts and are interested in learning more about how to effectively use social media as a lawyer, make sure you’re engaging in best practices for lawyers on social media. Then, to improve your LinkedIn presence, here are 5 tips for lawyers on LinkedIn. To improve your Twitter presence, learn about Twitter 101 for Lawyers. For tips on using Facebook for your law practice, Facebook 101 for Lawyers should help. And finally, you’ll find advice on getting the most out of blogging in this post, Blogging 101 for Lawyers.