Two recent reports concerning Digital marketing and social media in the legal sector.

Law Society Social Media Practice Note

In June, The Law Society revised its social media “good practice” note (original published in December 2011) with specific reference to professional conduct on client care, confidentiality, publicity and relations with third parties. There is also reference to the SRA principles with particular reference to integrity, independence and trust.

The main changes include:

  • A clearer definition of social media (“web sites and applications that enable users to create and share content or participate in social networking”)
  • More information on the benefits and risks of social media
  • Case studies on how social media is being used in the profession

While there is some value in the guide for lawyers who are unfamiliar with social media, it does little to help more experienced users. It raises a number of issues – such as whether connecting to clients on LinkedIn breaches confidentiality – without providing a clear answer. It doesn’t address who owns social media contacts.

There is an analysis of the blurring of the lines between personal and professional behaviour with a focus on the danger of posting material that may be accessed by a wider audience than you intend (a prompt to learn how to use privacy and security settings properly) that may prejudice your employment chances at an interview.

There is a section on setting a social media policy with some helpful prompts to help you think about what it might contain.

There are two (anonymous) case studies. One firm uses 13 social media tools and cited content management as the main risk identified. It has a signing off procedure and all staff are trained on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as having a Twitter best practice group to share knowledge and successes. It uses Hootsuite, and Google alerts to monitor activity.

The other relates to a firm whose main clients (who are disabled) are avid users of social media. Staff must keep personal and professional accounts separate and only two individuals have access to the firm’s account and client permission is always sought before the firm writes about cases. They also provide strategic support to clients whose cases are reported online and monitor employee accounts.

The Lawyer/Econsultancy: Digital Marketing in the Legal Sector

Also in June, The Lawyer magazine in conjunction with Econsultancy, published research with more than 150 professionals employed in marketing, digital or communications with in the legal sector.

The main findings were as follows:

  • Digital a minor part of marketing budget 43% and 35% of respondents have increased marketing staff and budgets respectively since 2014. Yet 67% admitted that digital represented just 1-20% of marketing budget.
  • Digital is integrated Almost 70% said digital permeates most marketing with 11% saying digital permeates all marketing and 8% saying they are “digital first” firms. Only 12% said digital efforts are separate
  •  Barriers to digital remain Barriers to digital marketing included culture and ROI with reliance on traditional marketing mentioned by 26% and firm culture by 25%.
  • Content creation skills needed Multimedia content creation is the skill second-most in demand when recruiting into legal sector marketing teams.
  • Patchy support for mobile clients Half of survey respondents felt their firm was adequately set up to manage the customer experience for predominately mobile users. 9% said their firm was “very much” set up to manage the customer experience for mobile users, 41% said “to a certain extent” and 19% “not at all”.
  • Little eCRM 27% admitted they have nothing in place and are scoping new systems. 30% said they are implementing a new system so less than half have an established or mature CRM strategy.
  • Most effective digital channels Channels were ranked as follows: content marketing, email marketing, data management/CRM, social media, search engine marketing, PPC, webinars, mobile, display advertising, marketing automation and finally marketing analytics

Social media for social causes

To finish in a bright note, there has been a recent very positive demonstration of social media in the legal profession.

Sean Jones QC launched a Just Giving campaign to raise £7,500 for Save the Children in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. Within 48 hours he had prompted nearly 1,000 people to donate a staggering £100,000. You can still make a donation: