Send Lawyers, Blogs and Money
How do law firms find new clients? I'm talking about the reputalble ones not the ambulance chasers with the big hats and big suits who pop up on late-night TV hawking personal injury legal services. Most firms eschew advertising as unprofessional and are still relying on networking, referals, newsletters and even the Yellow Pages for their marketing. (Yellow Pages? Seriously?)
Problem is, people who are looking for attorneys today do exactly what everyone else does when they're looking for personal services, consumer goods, restaurant reviews etc. They go online and "Google it."
Don't believe me? Then go to Google Keywords and type in "Lawyers in Massachusetts," or "Lawyers in Boston." Those phrases were Googled more than 49,000 and 32,000 times last month respectively. Tens of thousand of potential clients are out there surfing the Web, searching for their new attorney. But unless a law firm has a good website, blog, Facebook profile etc., they're not going to show up very high in those Google searches (and 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of a search).
Making connections with real people is important, and that will never change. But the way people are making those connections is changing, and to ignore the most significant and disruptive advance in personal interactions and communications in more than 100 years is big troglodytical mistake.
I know some lawyers will scoff and say the clients they're interested aren't spending their time surfing the web and blogging and twittering. Possibly. But even if they're not, many of their competitors are. According to a survey last year by ALM Legal Intelligence, nearly half of US law firms reported that blogging and social networking initiatives have helped produce new business leads and actually landed new work. So they're not just wasting their time.
In her recent blog post, Carolyn Elefant, a solo lawyer in Washington, DC whose sideline is legal blogging, complained in fairly harsh language about all the young pups fresh out of law school who come to her for a job and know nothing about social media.
"At 48 years old," she writes," I am old enough to be your mother. And you should be ashamed of yourself. Here you are, coming to me for a legal job when you don’t know the first thing about RSS feeds, blogging (reading them, let alone writing them), Twitter, Pinterest or YouTube. And what’s more, you have no comprehension of the importance of these tools to my practice and seemingly no interest in learning how to use them."
Tell us what you really think, Carolyn.
Elefant goes on to express astonishment that law schools are apparently telling their students not to blog and to stay off Twitter to avoid leaving an incriminating online trail.
"To heck with that," she writes. "You’re only young once; might as well use the facility for picking up new ways of communicating and make a few mistakes along the way then act like a middle-aged lawyer before you reach that point."
The social media deniers remind me of the people I heard a few years ago saying, "Why would I order a book online and wait a week for it to show up in my mailbox when I can just go to my corner bookstore and buy it?" It sounded like common sense at the time. But where are those corner bookstores today?
(Some material for this blog post was provided by Dennis Bailey, president of Savvy Inc.)