As The Law Society offers its first social media guidance, new research shows that law firms are becoming more and more active on LinkedIn.

Benefits of using LinkedIn

Nearly half of partners and employees at the UK’s top law firms are now on LinkedIn, and the number of people following the same law firms on LinkedIn has also doubled in the last year.

According to PR firm Kelso who compiled the research, the firms with the largest LinkedIn presence were found to be Olswang (68%) and Charles Russell (64%), with Berrymans Lace Mawer (21%), Slaughter and May (27%) and pre-merger Beachcroft (27%) amongst the smallest.

Despite the impressive figures, the research did not assess how active lawyers actually were on LinkedIn. “It is clear that while many professionals have adopted LinkedIn enthusiastically, and have large numbers of contacts and use it regularly, there are plenty of agnostics with LinkedIn accounts,” admitted Kelso owner Tim Prizeman.

Prizeman also suggested that firms should divert their attention away from Twitter towards LinkedIn if they wish to fully exploit social media’s profitability. “It is LinkedIn that fee-earners and their clients are much more likely to be using”, arguing that it now a mainstream application for lawyers.

He said: “It is a reflection on the poor state of the economy that LinkedIn’s use has increased so dramatically over just 12 months. LinkedIn is all about staying in contact with past and present colleagues and clients, and most lawyers know referrals from these are the best source of new clients, so using it is a logical step in our austere economy.

“Many business owners, as well as senior executives, have LinkedIn accounts too and regularly use other social media. Many will not be impressed by lawyers with Luddite attitudes towards technology who then claim to be providing leading-edge legal advice, nor will high-flying graduates.”

First Law Society guidance

The research comes at the same time as The Law Society’s first official social media guidance. The practice note from The Law Society outlines the benefits of using social media for solicitors and law firms. However, it also warns firms to be wary of risks such as defamation and breaching confidentiality. Disclosing information such as contact lists and location on social media websites could make this a tricky area for firms who are keen to embrace the full power of social networking.

The Law Society suggests that firms should consider implementing a social media policy, which for smaller firms, may only mean assigning social media activities to one person in the company.

What do you think?

Which social media website do you use? Do you agree that LinkedIn is more profitable than Twitter? We want to hear your thoughts.