ABA Survey: Lawyers and Social Media in 2020

When I first started encouraging lawyers to participate on and understand social media more than a decade ago, it was a tough sell. Very few lawyers saw any value in learning about social media since they didn’t believe it would impact their bottom line.

These days, it’s a very different story. Social media has become part of our day-to-day lives and as a result, lawyers are no longer ignoring it.  For proof of this you need look no further than the results of the latest ABA Legal Technology Survey Report. According to the Report, 80% of lawyers report that their firms maintain a presence on social media, and 80% also personally maintain a social media presence for professional purposes.

Lawyers and their firms participate on a number of different social media platforms, and as the results of the Report show, they use social media for a host of different reasons:

  • Career development and networking (67%)
  • Client development (49%)
  • Education and current awareness (43%)
  • Case investigation (22%)
  • Other reasons (3%)

LinkedIn was the most popular social network for lawyers, which isn’t surprising. Lawyers have always been the most comfortable participating on this platform given its focus on “professional networking.” According to the Report, the majority of lawyers — 57% — indicated that their law firms maintained a LinkedIn presence. 73% reported that they personally maintained a LinkedIn profile for professional purposes, and 31% reported that they used LinkedIn for reasons unrelated to professional goals.

Usage varied depending on firm size. Larger firms were most likely to have a presence on LinkedIn, with 82% of firms of 100 or more attorneys having a presence in LinkedIn. Next up were 47% of solos, 45% of midsize firms with 10 to 49 lawyers, and 45% of smaller firms with two to nine lawyers.

When it comes to maintaining personal LinkedIn pages for professional purposes, large-firm lawyers led the way, with 87% of lawyers from firms with 500 or more lawyers using LinkedIn, 88% of lawyers from firms with 100 to 499 lawyers, 82% of lawyers from firms with 50 to 99 lawyers, and 79% of lawyers from firms with 10 to 49 lawyers.

Facebook came in as the second most popular social network with lawyers, with 54% of lawyers reporting that their firms maintained a presence of Facebook. 39% of lawyers reported that they personally used Facebook for professional reasons, while 86% shared that they used Facebook primarily for personal, non-professional reasons.  Facebook is also a primary marketing channel (second only to email), with 30% of lawyers surveyed reporting that it’s one of the main channels that they use to market their law practice.

Firms of 2-9 attorneys were the most likely to have a presence on Facebook (65%), followed by firms with 10-49 lawyers (51%) and firms with 100 or more attorneys (51%).

Twitter was the least popular social network with only 28% of lawyers reporting that they personally maintained a presence on Twitter for professional reasons, and 33% using it for personal, non-professional purposes. Similarly, only 21% of lawyers reported that their firms maintained a presence on Twitter. Large firms with 100 or more lawyers were the most likely to do so at 45%, followed by 23% of lawyers from firms with 10-49 attorneys, and 13% of lawyers from firms with  2-9 attorneys.

Last but not least: blogging. Less than a third of lawyers reported that their firms have a blog  (30% compared to 26% in 2016), and only 6% of respondents reported that they maintained a legal topic blog.

Notably, 49% of lawyers who blogged reported that they’d been retained by a client directly or as a result of a referral due to their legal blogging, while only 31% reported that they’d been retained directly or as a result of a referral due to their participation on social networks. Based on these statistics, it’s safe to say that there may be a better likelihood of being rewarded for time spent blogging. So, if you enjoy writing and have time available to blog, I’d suggest that you consider blogging as way to obtain new business.

That being said, participation on major social media channels can also offer good returns. In other words, if you ignore the possibilities presented by social media, your firm’s bottom line will  undoubtedly be negatively affected – and your competitors on social media are likely experiencing just the opposite.

Why put your firm in that position? If you’re not already using social media for business development, maybe this is the year to start! For a roadmap that will get you on the right track, make sure to download this FREE guide today: Marketing Your Law Firm Using Social Media.