How Lawyers are Using Social Media in 2016

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

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The first social media site that everyone agrees on being defined as social media was a website called Six Degrees, which began in 1997, and lasted until 2001. It allowed users to create a profile and friend other users. Soon, the internet moved into the era of blogging and instant messaging. LinkedIn and Facebook were created, and social media was on its way. In those early years, lawyers were skeptical, thinking that social media offered little value to their profession.

Now, as social media has become a major part of our culture, lawyers are accepting its importance to their profession. Litigators use it to better represent their clients, researching prospective jurors, or searching for evidence. Others use it to network or for professional development. The number of lawyers using social media are increasing as shown by the recent American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report.

The report, which is conducted every year, collects responses from 966 lawyers from all across the U.S., ranging from solos to firms of more than 500 lawyers, with diverse practice areas ranging from family law, to corporate law, to personal injury. The results show that, in general, more lawyers than ever are networking online.

Today, 85% of law firms have a website, which include the following information in order of use:

  • Firm information
  • Attorney profiles
  • Attorney contact information
  • Attorney articles or presentations
  • Links to social media profiles
  • Firm newsletter
  • Self-help legal information guides
  • Client intake form

There has been an increase (76%) in lawyers who actively maintain and post online. Four years ago, only 55% reported posting online. Lawyers interact online for the following reasons:

  • Career development and networking—71%
  • Client development—48%
  • Education and current awareness—45%
  • Case investigation—24%

LinkedIn is the most popular social media site with 57% of law firms reporting a presence on LinkedIn. Next is Facebook with 38% of firms having a Facebook page; then Twitter (21%), and finally Google Plus (10%).

Lawyers with the following practice areas are most likely to have personal social media profiles for work-related purposes: commercial (80%), corporate (80%), contracts (70%), litigation (77%), and employment (72%).

How much time do lawyers spend using online social networking sites for professional purposes? 1.6 hours.

Is the time well-spent? Nearly 25% of respondents reported getting clients from social media while another 23% were not sure.

It's safe to say that social media is here to stay. Your prospective clients know this as about 75% of them either search for lawyers online or research the references they've been given. In the past three months, 81,567 attorneys and consumers searched 1,038,183 pages in the SBM Member Directory. You need to be there. It's easy to participate in all the features provided.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section newsletter.

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