Posts Tagged ‘Law Firms’

Facebook fan page for lawyers?

March 9, 2010

I recently gave a talk about social networking and lawyers and when it came to Facebook I stayed strictly on the fence.  Here is a post that touts the value of a Facebook Fan page for lawyers/law firms.  So here are my thoughts about the pros and cons:


1.  Makes you more visible on the web.  Recently, it was announced that Facebook gets more search traffic than Google so a Fan page on Facebook can only help your visibility

2.  Extends your website content.  If you have a small website and want give users a chance to see a photo album of your new office or a place to view news feeds appropriate to their needs, then a link out to your Facebook Fan page could be a great add-on to your website.

3.  Encourages potential clients to engage with you.  Facebook Fan pages aren’t static like a webpage.  Fans can make comments, its easy for you to add new content and features in an environment you may already be comfortable in.


1.  Takes more time to make it really valuable.  A Fan page becomes one more thing to manage and it will only attract attention and engagement if it has fresh content people want.  Do you really have the time for that?

2.  Could be duplicative of your website and communicate only a portion of your brand.  Once you direct people off your website, then they will no longer be within your brand – the look and feel of your website and your brand is diluted.  And do you really want to stream your blog both to your website and your fan page? 

3.  If  not kept up, could reflect badly on you.   Like an abandoned blog, an abandoned Facebook Fan page looks sad and forlorn.  There are the three people – all related to you – who signed up as fans.  There are the tabs that when someone clicks reveals blank white pages.   


If you love Facebook and social networking and enjoy learning and exploring, then this might be perfect for you.  If on the other-hand you would do this only as another way to promote yourself on Internet, I think LinkedIn, your Website and blog are still much more appropriate venues.  But as I said in my talk, lets check back in 6 months and see where we are.

Email scam hit law firms

February 23, 2010

This is not a new scam but the target is new.  According to news reports, the prospective client emails a request for representation to the law firm and then sends a cashier’s check far exceeding the law firms typical retainer.  The firm wires the money back to the client only to then discover that the original cashier’s check was counterfeit.  So far, two firms have fallen for the scheme out of six attempts.

Lesson: don’t engage a client without at least a phone call first!

Dangers of stock photos on your website

January 30, 2010

Here is a post from “Above the Law” discussing the use of stock photos for a criminal defense firm with a sexual crimes practice groups.  As you quickly see, the photos are disturbing because they focus on the pain of the victims when the law firm is seeking to represent the accused perpetrators.

But the bigger problem is the use of stock photos on law firm websites.  A law firm provides specific kinds of legal representation and establishes personal relationships with its clients to do that.  Law firms aren’t providing boilerplate tax preparation or weight-loss programs.  If you are a personal injury firm and show a stock photo of an ambulance, crashed car, sad victims, a wheelchair it give your website a generic look and communicates to clients that your firm provides a cookie-cutter approach to legal representation.  That isn’t the message you want to convey.

Law firms charge more despite poor reviews

December 7, 2009

The National Law Journal reports that the average rates at the top 250 law firms went up 2.5% in 2009.   Yet, 71% of in-house counsel believe that law firms haven’t done enough to respond to current financial pressures.  This disconnect led Qwest’s GC Richard Baer at a recent panel on the future of law firms to say:

“We’re a profession that, over the last hundred years, has not done anything differently and the only industry that is proud of that.  For us not to embrace change and innovation over the next eighteen months, over the next eighteen years, we are all going to fail.”

Maybe this provides an opportunity for the smaller firms and solo practitioners.

Use social media for competitive intelligence

November 15, 2009

Here is another article about the dangers of social networking for companies.   The article’s recommendation is “be careful” and I think that’s insufficient.  Training, training, training, I believe is the key to a successful corporate approach to handling employees use of social networking.

The article starts out discussing a more interesting issue which is utilizing social networking for competitive intelligence.  They use LinkedIn as an example and warn about the dangers of allowing people access to your network.  The first point is that for a corporation, this could be like handing over a client list to a competitor.  The second point is that this list is great competitive intelligence as it could show an outsider who the key people are in a particular industry and how your company connects to them.

Point one:  There are good reasons to keep your network private based on who you are and what you do.  As an attorney, clients might not want other people to know about the relationship so that is a critical issue.  If you work for Microsoft, you may not want your bosses to know that you just accepted a Google HR recruiter to your network.  Or maybe you do.  But there are downsides to privacy.  Restricting access to your network deprives you some of the benefits of reaching out to others based on who you know. 

Point two:  LinkedIn is a great tool for competitive intelligence, learning about who knows who and how they know them.  This can be great information for a meeting.  You can ask with some confidence if the person you are meeting with knows someone else in their network that you know.

Twitter is also a great tool for competitive intelligence.  In face by utilizing the Twitter’s advance search, its possible to refine a search and get very real time information.  For example, I did a search on various law firms and found that an attorney at Wilson Sonsini tweeted about his being made partner before the firm had made the announcement public.  Typically, firms like to control these kinds of announcements carefully so this might be exploitable intelligence.  Who might have been overlooked?  What else might this person tweet about that could be revealing?

By the way, I will be speaking about competitive intelligence for law firms in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Social networking risks in law firms

November 12, 2009

Here is a link to a good article published in the National Law Journal today about social networking risks, benefits and how to manage them. 

One thing that the article and others haven’t stressed but I think should, is the importance of training employees in the appropriate and inappropriate use of social networking and how proper use can give their career a boost.

Largest drop in attorneys working at top 250 firm – ever

November 10, 2009

“The total number of attorneys working at the top 250 law firms plunged by 5,259 lawyers. Put another way, it’s as if all of the lawyers working at two firms the size of Jones Day vanished in 2009.”


This number – which is probably even larger than reported –  is by far the largest decline in the history of National Law Journal reporting.  This along with signs that alternative fee billing is quickly becoming expected of law firms, suggests changes in the legal industry that aren’t simply a result of the Great Recession.

Selective blocking of social networking sites?

October 24, 2009

Steven Matthews blogs about law firms as employers’ dilemma blocking social networking websites.  He lists out several IT solutions that might allow a firm to selectively block sites based on time restrictions, identifying specific abusers and the like.   But the most important point he makes at the end.

“One last point: A significant number of web tools start with a ‘fun’ or social purpose, before evolving for business use. And few remain in the form for which they were originally envisioned. Law firms would do well to leave themselves an open door to re-evaluate blocking decisions. The site you blocked two years ago may be an unforeseen opportunity in the future.”

Freebie: my article on social networking policies

October 15, 2009

Thanks to Diane Camacho and Sally Hatchett for publishing my article, “First Steps Towards a Social Networking Policy” in the October 2009 ALA Golden Gate Chapter Newsletter.

You can download the pdf HERE.

Final rites for the billable hour?

October 8, 2009

Probably not but alternative fee arrangements in “this economy” are definitely picking up steam.  Increasingly firms are welcoming the opportunity rather than dragging their feet into these alternative arrangements.  Big firms report that from 10% to 30% of their revenue comes from such billing sources.  News from O’Melveny leaked that it is working on a five year plan to become the industry leader in alternative fee arrangements.  Its estimated that the amount of revenue coming from alternative fees topped more than $13 billion so far this year compared to less than $9 billion for a comparable period for 2008.

And now Larry Bodine reports that its become a topic for a paid seminar to assist firms with making the transistion.   So now alternative fee arrangements are a premiere marketing tool definitely a sign of big change.