In-house counsel increase use of social media, blogs

In-house lawyers have increased the use of social media in their professional lives, and these tools are now a factor in making business decisions, says a recent American study.

The survey of 164 in-house lawyers in the United States found the adoption of social media among corporate counsel is growing, although there is a generational split among younger and older lawyers. Of counsel aged 30 to 39, 100 per cent said they would use these tools to access information compared to about half of counsel in the older age groups.

The survey, conducted by Greentarget Strategic Communications, ALM Legal Intelligence, and Zeughauser Group, also found those who make decisions on purchasing legal services in major corporations increasingly are influenced by lawyer-authored blogs in forming opinions that influence law firm hiring decisions. It also noted blogs are widely recognized and used by in-house counsel across age groups and company size as increasingly credible sources of news and information.

About 43 per cent of in-house counsel identified blogs as among their leading sources of news and information, and 50 per cent envision a future in which a high-profile blog will influence a client’s decision to hire a law firm.

In-house counsel use the three main social media platforms — LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter — for both professional and personal reasons, according to the survey.

It also indicates overall new media consumption is on the rise as 53 per cent of in-house counsel expect their use of industry news and information via new media platforms will increase over the next six months to a year.

Adrian Dayton, a New York lawyer and social media consultant to large law firms, says while the data in the survey indicates an increase, which is important, there is further room for growth.

“What really matters is what decision-makers within companies and in-house counsel think,” says Dayton. “Blogs and activity in the social media realm is on the radar of in-house counsel, but is not yet a staple. It will be interesting to see what happens next.”

When it comes to law firm-to-client communications, 51 per cent of in-house counsel said they would receive content from their law firms via new media platforms provided the content is relevant to their businesses.

“It will be interesting to watch how the perceptions and usage patterns of the in-house legal community unfold over time. There’s no question that law-firm marketers are anxious to leverage these emerging channels at the enterprise level to advance their reputations, brands, and business development goals,” says Kevin Iredell, vice president of ALM Legal Intelligence.

Other key findings include:

• While in-house counsel continue to rely on “traditional media” as their leading sources for business-related news and information, 43 per cent cited blogs and 26 per cent cited social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) among their top “go-to” sources.

• New media platforms receiving the highest ranking by in-house counsel for their credibility as information sources include Martindale-Hubbell Connected, LinkedIn, Wikipedia, and blogs.

• Half of in-house counsel agree or somewhat agree that in the future, high-profile blogs authored by law firm lawyers will influence the process by which clients hire law firms. In contrast, only 10 per cent of in-house counsel believe a firm’s prominence on Twitter will drive business development.

• Wikipedia ranked among the most credible sources of industry news and information (behind Martindale-Hubbell Connected and LinkedIn). Despite Wikipedia’s broad familiarity and professional use among in-house counsel, only 13 per cent of in-house lawyers have viewed the Wikipedia pages of their current and prospective outside law firms.

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