Strikingly, one of the factors taken into consideration and a determining factor in who gets the company's business is whether the law firm has a blog.
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Sound strange? Not really. Firms with blogs provide an inside look into their achievements, their thinking on and approach to critical legal issues and insight into the firm's and its attorneys' overall character and legal philosophy.
As a follow up to the Benzinga post, I decided to see what the top 20 firms of 2009 were doing on the blogosphere. I chose the Am Law list based on gross revenues for 2009. My Google search terms were simple: ''[Firm Name] law blog'' and ''[Firm Name] legal blog''. The purpose of this test was to gauge public accessibility to any potential blogs associated with any of my 20 firms and is in no way a definitive guide to firm blogging. The results were surprising.
My search terms turned up only five firms that had blogs readily visible on the web. The subject matter varied: e-discovery, labor and employment law, and product liability. A little further digging showed that most firms had a few attorneys somehow involved in blogging through outside sources dedicated to specific areas of practice.
Is this, then, a yet untapped avenue for potential client building? Firms are notoriously slow to change but I expect that within the next year or two a one or more blogs focusing on particular practice areas will be commonplace to all law firms.
Another interesting tidbit.
In addition to the blog factor, the Benziga piece pointed out social platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Twitter, as tools that are being utilized in the hiring process on both ends. I immediately started to imagine pictures of cats, links to other Yale law school alumni, and 140 character (or less) commentaries on constitutional law. Alas, I never went to Yale law school.
Waking from my reveries, I soon began to realize (with great pride) that our society is willing, able and savvy enough to adapt technology to its own devices. There are outlets ready made that can serve and be adapted quite well to, in the case of this piece, a law firm. An entire law firm on Facebook? Not quite yet. One attorney, however, can easily become the unpaid (or paid) spokesperson for an entire firm. It also makes sense that attorneys in corporate legal departments would use the internet's various networking tools and info exchanges to feel out the texture of a firm, even on as granular a level as individual attorneys, before hiring it.
All this points in one direction - the lines between personal and professional use of traditionally ''private'' web-based social forums are becoming more indistinct. Not only are professionals being assessed on an individual level but their online mutterings are being looked at with this new question in mind: How does this person or group of people represent their firm? Is this the type of firm we want to work with? What has John Q. Esquire tweeted about corporate acquisitions today? Did Jane Advocate comment on her blog today about the recent rash of securities investigations?
A whole new generation of legal professionals
has the opportunity, with enough internet smarts and chutzpa, to use these media and carefully craft their professional personae. In so doing they might become shining ambassadors for their firms. Likewise those potential clients, under this new system of semi-anonymous courtship, have a unique window into their avatars.
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