A Fundamental Misunderstanding

by Adrian Dayton


“Does your firm use social media?”

“Oh yeah, our marketing department takes care of all social media.”

This is a common reply among law firms and shows the a fundamental misunderstanding in the way social media operates. Social media is not about the firm’s network, but instead it is about the combined networks of each individual lawyer. When a firm creates a Twitter account or a company page on LinkedIn, these centralized accounts will be lucky if they attract a couple hundred followers, and many of those followers will be useless because they are already members of the firm. Simply blasting new firm content to this tiny smattering of followers is about as effective as trying to boil the ocean by breathing hot air on it.

Social media should be a force multiplier for your firm.  A force multiplier is something that dramatically increases the effectiveness of a group, I’ve put together the below image to show on the left how firms are currently using social media, while on the right we see how firms should be taking advantage of social media. Every single lawyer at a given firm has her own contacts that trust her. These contacts are the people most likely to hire her today, but the only way a firm can be in regular contact with those individuals is if she either shares the contact information with the firm or if she personally shares information to the people in her network.


So how do firms persuade their lawyers to share to their contacts? It isn’t easy. Every firm thrives based on the efforts of a few high performing rainmakers, but what about the rest of the lawyers at the firm? It has been my experience that there is a 90/10 phonomenon at the firm, where 10% of the lawyers at the firm do 90% of the business development and the other 90% of lawyers barely manage 10% of the other effort. Those other 90% of lawyers are busy, uninterested in marketing and don’t have the personality for cocktail parties. That is ok, but they still have relationships from law school, previous companies they have worked for or firms they have worked at that could be great sources of business. Firms just need to tap into them! Social media is a very passive way for lawyers to keep their contacts informed. Share an update on LinkedIn, send an occasional message of congratulations, or simply be aware of changes in the career path of your contacts. Did your study partner from law school just become the general counsel of a medium sized company? LinkedIn will let you know. Take the chance to share an article or some information with them.

90% of lawyers will never be business developers, they won’t change their stripes, but they can all leverage their relationships if only they take a small amount of time to share with their network great content from their firm.

One lawyer sharing on social media is nice, but 100 lawyers at a firm sharing on social media suddenly forms a juggernaut. You can’t buy that kind of publicity or advertising, because it is targeted to individuals that already have deep relationships with members of your firm. Flip the switch and turn on social media at your firm – its a powerful force multiplier for your firm. Or your could just ignore it and let marketing take care of it. Good luck with that.

Written by:

Adrian Dayton

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