Social media – lawyer vs. law firm

For years law firms have grown larger, increasingly international and necessarily more complex.  Their advertising and marketing budgets have reflected that growth and the campaigns have grown in sophistication as well.

Here comes social media

But social networking is primarily a personal medium – blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn are all more engaging when an identifiable human being is involved. And despite all the growth in law firms, legal services remains a personal business.  The mantra of, “we hire lawyers not law firms” hasn’t died out and now with social media, it gains a whole new relevance.

Should law firms blog or tweet?

So should law firms, no matter how big, allow their rainmakers to create personal blogs and Twitter accounts?

How does the law firm make sure its attorneys aren’t violating privacy, confidentiality or common sense rules about what to make public?

Should the law firm still have its own blog or Twitter account?

Inform, educate but don’t restrict

The fact is that “rainmakers” bring business to a law firm and not the firm itself, so social media should be seen as another tool for the top partners in a law firm to market to clients and prospective clients without having get permission for everything they write.  In most cases, it’s these folks personalities, their thinking, their expertise that attracts clients to engage them as their lawyers.  Social networking outlets are a perfect way for them to build on their successes.

Lead from the top

The firm’s management committee should determine who engage ed in active social networking and they should be assigned a social networking guru in the marketing department to assist.  Not every partner needs to blog or tweet.  The firm should be aware of who is doing this and believe it will assist that partner in bringing more business to the firm.  They should monitor what these partners are saying and they should make sure these partners are informed and trained about social networking pitfalls and new developments.

Should the “firm” tweet or blog too?

Sure, why not disseminated firm announcements, news, events and accomplishments through a blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed?  This won’t bring in business but it will give clients and potential clients a sense of an engaged and active law firm.

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