For the past two years, my company, Leader Networks has embarked on the Networks for Counsel Study – a global study of the legal industry’s adoption of online professional networking, preferences, usage and future predictions. This study is huge! We administered it to 1474 counsel – 764 private practice lawyers and 710 corporate counsel in May and June of 2009. Internationally, 33 countries were represented.
The reason we do this study is to examine the global adoption and use of social media among counsel; to identify lawyer preferences for online networking features and uses; segment the key professional benefits experienced through professional networking; and to benchmark expectations of the future impact of social media on the legal practice.
Because the legal industry in a notable benchmark for they are not typically early adopters of technology – ever cautious, measured and risk adverse, they often take a wait-and- see approach to innovation. However, the results suggest that the times are a-changing! This study supports that the legal profession is embracing social media as a way of doing business and may serve as a bellwether for organizational adoption of social media best practice at large.
Here are some research highlights:
The study reveals that more than 70 percent of attorneys are members of an online social network – up 25 percent over the past year – and that more than 50 percent think online networks have the potential to change the business and practice of law. This study also reveals a high degree of interest – 65 percent – in joining an online professional network designed specifically for their profession.
Frequency and Type of Use
Attorneys rely on a variety of social media to connect, collaborate and engage online as part of their professional and personal lives. The use of specific social media tools varies widely among attorneys, as does the frequency of their use:
- One third of corporate counsel and close to half of outside counsel who participate in public social networks for professional purposes do so on at least a daily basis;
- The majority of lawyers who participate in professional online communities report doing so once per week or less;
- Only six percent of lawyers participate in Microblogging (Twitter, Plurk, etc) but roughly 70 percent of those who do report doing so at least once per week;
- One third of corporate counsel and close to half of outside counsel who read and add comments or ratings to articles, blogs and other online content do so on at least a daily basis;
- Lawyers who use online content sharing (SlideShare, Flickr, YouTube, etc) do so weekly or less.
This study series is commissioned by Martindale-Hubbell and serves as independent research to enable them to accurately understand the market and plan for new features for their popular private online community Martindale Connected. We lead the strategy effort for Martindale Connected and are pleased to report it is the now best practice for the legal industry and was even covered by Bloomberg today!