Blogging as a powerful tool for building a lawyer´s reputation

Blogging is a powerful tool for building a lawyer´s reputation. You need to have a foundation to build on. Blogging won’t make you a great lawyer or even let you pretend to be one. But if you are a thoughtful lawyer with knowledge and insight to share, blogging lets you do that on a level far beyond that of any other publishing platform.

Here is the question the ABA survey asked: “If you needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter, how likely would you be to use the following resources to find one?” Among the resources listed were webistes, directories, social networking sites and blogs.

 

According to the survey, Forty-nine percent of respondents were very likely or somewhat likely to turn to websites where viewers can ask lawyers for legal information if they needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter. Sometimes sites offer answers exclusively on legal matters, while other sites include legal matters among a variety of topics such as accounting, plumbing and health issues. The interest people have in using Q & A sites to help find a lawyer for a personal legal matter seems consistent with the notions that people want fast and free information on the Internet, be it legal information or otherwise. It is unclear from this research whether people anticipate using Q & A sites to simply solve their legal matters or whether they think about using it to identify a lawyer who is knowledgeable about their particular issues, who they then anticipate subsequently hiring.

Forty-seven percent of respondents were very likely or somewhat likely to turn towebsites where lawyers are rated. This type of third-party credentialing is not unlike the verification a person gets when they turn to a trusted source such as a friend or family member. Obviously, the distinction is that the viewer is unfamiliar with those who provide the ratings. Nevertheless, customer rating sites have becoming popular in a variety of matters, including hotel and travel resources, doctors and teachers.

The second tier includes directories and online matching services. Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported they were very or somewhat likely to turn to online directories as a source to find a lawyer for a personal legal matter. Online directories were an early resource for legal services when the Internet emerged as a commercial vehicle.

Directories typically enabled viewers to identify an area of practice, such as domestic relations or bankruptcy and cross tab that with a geographic location, often a state or major city. The refinement of a few dominant search engines may have disintermediated and reduced the value of online directories. Now a viewer can now merely search for a divorce lawyer in Peoria through a search engine rather than first finding a directory and then using that to ultimately find the lawyer. Search engines are facilitating local searches for lawyers in a field of practice in a particular location and enhancing the search through mapping features that help viewers find the lawyer’s office. Nevertheless, the likelihood of using online directories was in the middle of the pack in this poll.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported that they were very or somewhat likely to use a website where people posted their problems and lawyers interested in representing them would then follow up and contact the potential client. This question was intended to ask about matching services. However, it may have been awkwardly presented in a way that led respondents to the belief that their personal information was posted online for all to see. This possibility is supported by the fact that 50% of respondents reported they were very unlikely to use such a model, a percentage substantially higher than the other first and second tier models.

Respondents reported they would be far less likely to use interactive tools that commonly fall under the banner of Web 2.0 compared to the other models included in the research.

Less than one of out five of the respondents were very or somewhat likely to use social network sites such as Facebook as a source when they needed a lawyer for a personal legal matter. Fifteen percent were very or somewhat likely to use blogs.

Just fifteen percent said they were very or somewhat likely to use blogs. It follows, therefore, that blogs are ineffective as tools for client development, right?

Of course not. The question makes no sense. A blog is not a selection tool. It is not a directory. It is not somewhere anyone would go to “find” something.

Rather than looking at blogs and social media as something new, we think people look at blogs and social media as accelerators of relationships and your word of mouth reputation.”

The lead conclusion of the ABA survey is that the first place people turn when looking for a lawyer is to a trusted source.

The goal of all legal networking, we believe, can be summed up in those two words: trusted relationships. Just as consumers buy brand names over generics, legal consumers hire the lawyer their cousin recommended and corporate counsel retain firms based on colleagues’ referrals. In each case, what sways the decision is trust.

A blog is a reputation accelerator. Not every blog is. It has to be well done. It has to have thoughtful posts. It has to offer insight. I’m not talking about the blogs that are nothing more than SEO engines.

It is rare that a potential client will call a lawyer and say, “I’m calling you because you have a blog.” It is far more common, however, for a potential client to call a lawyer who blogs and say, “I’m calling you because I researched lawyers online who handle this kind of law and found frequent references to you.”

Trust is an amorphous and highly subjective concept. A blog is certainly no magic bullet. A blog can, however, provide substantiation for why you should be trusted.

Online networking is no different than traditional networking – if you overlook the fact that it is plugged in, supercharged and global in reach. When done right and to full effect, social media tools add rocket fuel to all of the ways lawyers traditionally get new business. They support client referrals and recommendations, they support peer referrals and recommendations, they take in-person networking beyond physical limits, they strengthen alumni relationships, they simulate conferences and publishing by enabling you to highlight your knowledge and expertise, they even allow you to respond to RFPs.

Social media are a set of tools for broadening and strengthening your network of trusted relationships. Used properly and effectively, social media will enhance your reputation, strengthen confidence in your “brand,” and broaden your professional and personal networks. All of these combine to give others a reason to trust you – and you them.

 

 

1 comment for “Blogging as a powerful tool for building a lawyer´s reputation

  1. 08/10/2012 at 8:46

    The attorney is also a powerful symbol. If people go through the trouble of selecting one and retaining their services, then it puts up a powerful image for the others who are involved in the situation. Essentially, the main draw of having someone there to help is the way that they can guide the client through their situation, staying with them until a result is announced. It is perhaps this aspect that is one of the more powerful of them. There is someone who is going to stay with the client throughout the case, giving them information and helping them.

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