I believe that most solo practitioners and small firms are ahead of the curve when it comes to Internet and social media marketing. They almost have to be, since it’s an extremely effective way to market legal services at a low cost.
I also know from attorneys who attend our Rainmaker Retreat, or catch me on the road at one of my many speaking engagements, that the #1 problem they face is a lack of time to devote to law firm marketing online. Their experiences are certainly mirrored by most marketers, as evidenced by a recent poll at emarketer.com:
Recently, I authored an Avvo blog post entitled, Should Attorneys Outsource Their Social Media Marketing? This post elicited a couple of comments from attorneys concerned about the bar rules on lawyer communication and if they might run afoul of those rules if they outsourced their content creation and/or social media management. I responded as follows:
Bar rules state that an attorney is “responsible” for whatever is communicated on their behalf–whether it’s online or offline.
Just as no bar requires only attorneys to answer their phone, likewise no bar requires only attorneys to blog or post to their online social media platforms. This becomes a training issue. Whoever is communicating on your behalf, whether it’s on Facebook, your blog or over the phone, must be trained how to do so in a professional and ethical manner.
The bar does hold you responsible for the communication that’s done on your behalf and that’s why it’s so important to be very careful whom you outsource or delegate those tasks to. You want to be sure they have extensive experience working with law firms and they are very familiar with what you can and cannot say to a prospect. I get very nervous when attorneys tell me they “saved a lot of money” by hiring a part time college student to manage all their social media, instead of paying more to hire a pro with extensive experience in the legal industry.
When it comes to law firm marketing online, you have two choices: you can spend your time or you can spend your money. If the latter choice makes more sense for you but you’re concerned about running afoul of bar rules, I highly recommend you check out Josh King’s presentation on ethics he did for the recent Avvocating conference.
Josh is one of the nation’s foremost experts on attorney ethics and is the General Counsel of Avvo. He covered many myths and misconceptions about the intersection of ethics and social media. Click on this link to access the video of Josh King’s 2012 Avvocating Conference presentation.
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