Almost two years ago I joined Twitter to try and find a publisher for a book I was writing. A couple of weeks later, a friend I follow asked, “does anybody know a contracts lawyer?” I responded and won a new client. A lawyer winning business on Twitter was unusual at that time, but it isn’t anymore. In a recent survey of 5000 lawyers and their technology usage, it was reported that “10% of respondents had a client retain their legal services as a result of use of online communities/social networking.” While 10% may seem small, keep in mind that many law firms have not yet embraced the use of sites like Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook by their attorneys.
So how are attorneys doing it? By personally maintaining a presence online. 56% of attorneys reported having a presence in 2010, up from just 43% in 2009 and 15% in 2008. These are major shifts. Take a look at the classic innovation curve:
For those unfamiliar with the Rogers Innovation Curve, think of the first group of innovators as those who stood in line for the first iPhone, the second group of early adopters are those who did their research and jumped on for the second version of the iPhone. The early majority represents widespread acceptance of the technology and the late majority is when people like my father (who just recently stopped dictating emails to his secretary) buy iPhones. The laggards are those who have not yet figured out how to turn on their computers.
Participating in social networks is no longer a fringe activity enjoyed by techies and gamers. Social networks have hit the mainstream for lawyers and since lawyers tend to lag behind the rest of the population I suspect there is even great penetration among businesses and among decision-makers within companies.
The survey identified 83% of attorneys using Linkedin, 68% using Facebook and 18% using the scarcely talked about Plaxo (perhaps because it sounds more like medication than a social network.) It is interesting to contrast these numbers to those of the Corporate Counsel New Media Engagement Survey by Greentarget earlier this year that asked in-house counsel which social networks they had used in the past 24 hours. For attorneys 30-39, a whopping 68% had used Facebook in the last 24 hours for personal reasons while only 47% has used Linkedin for professional reasons in the last 24 hours. The bottom line, significantly more time is spent on Facebook than Linkedin and savvy lawyers will likely realize they need to go where their best chances at winning new business are.
Have social networks