It's hard to say if lawyers are the last profession to embrace technology to grow their business — but they definitely aren't rushing to join the digital age either. Which is unfortunate — because they, and their clients, could gain a lot if they did.
Here are just a few things we wish more lawyers were doing:
Only 26 percent of the legal professionals who responded to the American Bar Association’s 2015 tech law survey reported that they or their law firms had blogs. The number is actually a smidge higher than was reported in 2014 (24 percent), but still a paltry figure considering the power of blogging in establishing oneself as a thought leader.
But there's an even greater good to be had here. Lawyers can seem intimidating to the average person. Blogging is an opportunity for lawyers to talk about what they do in a way that makes them more accessible to the people that need them (and — bonus! — it might even put an end to bad lawyer jokes).
Accessibility of content might be part of the problem for lawyers who ARE writing, but not getting engagement — giving those on the fence the impression that blogging isn't worth it.
In a piece for Bloomberg BNA, legal communications consultant Lee Feldman writes, “While law firms create large amounts of content, most of it isn’t very effective and is largely ignored by clients and prospects. By whatever metric you choose to measure — opens, clicks, time spent, click-to-request, etc. — law firm content is not engaging its targets.”
Feldman cites relevance as the key issue behind law blogs — much of the material simply isn't relevant to prospective clients.
If lawyers changed their approach to come at blogging from a more relatable, human perspective, people would surely read. At least they would with blogs marketed well.
To that end, lawyers need to dive into yet another area they've been resisting.
Interacting on Social Media
The reasons every other industry uses social media apply to the legal profession as well: It's a great way to promote content (like that new blog) and amplify their presence on the web.
But it's understandable why lawyers of all people would be a bit cautious here. There have been enough cases of social misconduct — and its fallout — for anyone to be leery. Lawyers know best of all that sometimes the consequences of one's actions create a legal mess.
That's just one more reason we need their voices in the social realm. Who better to lead the charge with cautionary tales of social gone wrong? The law hasn't caught up to much of digital technology, and that's something lawyers should be talking about to anyone who'll listen, frankly.
Because we're all in this together, but they are best equipped to understand where the gaps in the system are with regard to digital copyright, free speech issues, etc.
To that end, lawyers should be taking advantage of LinkedIn for both content creation and content promotion. Twitter and Facebook are also excellent channels for reaching clients and other thought leaders. And there are other ways for lawyers to break through the always-cacophonous social noise.
Getting the Word Out
Those interested in "all things legal" will follow your firm on social media and subscribe to your blog — but prospective clients probably don't fall into that category.
Most people will come to your website or blog because they have a need for representation, and that means they're likely shopping around. If you want an edge in ensuring they remember your practice, retargeting will give you that advantage.
Companies like Revcontent, AdRoll and Perfect Audience, to name a few, allow businesses to “retarget” visitors to their websites and blogs by re-engaging them with an ad in their email or social feeds after the fact. Visitors leave your site, check out a few more law practices, and then later when they're back on Facebook an ad for your site appears in their newsfeed reminding them you exist.
As researching vendors of any kind can be overwhelming, this is a huge help on the consumer side.
Revcontent is also a content recommendation network, for firms that want to kill two birds with one stone. Using services like Revcontent, Outbrain and Taboola puts your content in front of web users already reading related topics — meaning they might move to your post next (unless they're reading on a mobile device and your site isn't mobile friendly).
Upgrading to a Mobile-Friendly Site
None of the tips above matter if your site isn't mobile friendly — and it's something your firm needs to prioritize, as mobilegeddon is happening now. Everything you do on social media is designed to lead potential clients back to your website. When they click that blog link on Twitter, the experience has to be seamless or you've lost them.
Mobile accessibility is crucial for any business hoping to compete, yet "only 40 percent of the 'most prestigious' U.S. law firms are mobile-friendly," according to Didit. If your firm isn't one of them, you'd be wise to change that. Now.
The early adopters certainly won't be thrilled to have the competition, but if more lawyers had mobile-friendly sites, and were sharing insights via blogs and social media, it would only be a good thing for all concerned.
How do you kill a good lawyer joke? Humanize lawyers. Getting them out there on digital is a big step in that direction.