Lawyers’ social media use continues to grow, but only modestly, according to just-released findings of the 2013 American Bar Association Legal Technology Survey Report. More lawyers and law firms blog, tweet and participate in social media sites this year than last, but the growth is far from dramatic — generally just a few percentage points.

Twenty-seven percent of U.S. law firms now have blogs, according to the survey. That number is up from 22 percent last year, 15 percent in 2011, and 14 percent in 2010.

Percentage of law firms with blogs.

Percentage of law firms with blogs.

When lawyers were asked if they personally maintain a blog for professional purposes (as opposed to whether their firm does), only 9 percent answered yes. Overall, solos are the most likely to have a blog, with 12 percent saying they have one, up from 7 percent the year before. With regard to the age of legal bloggers, lawyers between 40-49 are the most likely to have professional blogs.

This year, 59 percent of lawyers said that their firms maintain a presence in a social network such as LinkedIn or Facebook. That compares with 55 percent in 2012, 42 percent in 2011 and 17 percent in 2010. Twenty-three percent of respondents said that their firms do not maintain a presence in social networks, and 18 percent had no idea whether they did or not.

Of the firms that do maintain a presence in a social network, the most common networks are LinkedIn and Facebook. Of these firms, 92 percent have a presence on LinkedIn, up from 88 percent the year before. On Facebook, 58 percent say they have a presence, up from 55 percent in 2012.

Meanwhile, law firm use of legal-vertical networks remains negligible. Of the 59 percent of firms that are on social networks at all, only 1 percent are on Legal OnRamp, down from 2 percent the year before. On Avvo and Martindale-Hubbell Connected, the number remained steady from last year at 2 percent. One percent of these firms reported a presence on LawLink.

Online Networks

Among lawyers individually (as opposed to their firms), 81 percent now say that they use social networks for professional purposes, up from 78 percent in 2012, 65 percent in 2011 and 56 percent in 2010. Of the lawyers who use social networks, nearly all of them — 98 percent — say they are on LinkedIn, up from 95 percent the year before. Use of Facebook by these lawyers dropped slightly, from 38 percent in 2012 to 33 percent this year.

Use of Twitter by law firms also grew slightly over last year. Nineteen percent of respondents said that their firms maintain a presence on Twitter or similar microblog services. That is up from 13 percent last year, 7 percent in 2011 and 5 percent in 2010.

Among lawyers individually, 14 percent say they use Twitter. That is a slight increase from 11 percent in 2012, but more than double the 6 percent who said they used it in 2011. Twitter users are more likely to be in smaller firms, with 18 percent of solos and 19 percent of lawyers in 2-9 member firms saying they use it. Of those in firms of 500 or more, only 9 percent use Twitter.

New ClientsOne interesting and perhaps revealing finding of the survey is that most lawyers do not follow their own firm’s social media profiles. Asked whether they personally subscribe to or follow their firm’s social media profiles, only 32 percent said yes and 68 percent said no.

A perennial question for lawyers is whether participation in social media generates new business. The survey asked lawyers whether a client had ever retained them as a result of social media:

  • Of lawyers who blog, 39.1 percent said yes.
  • Of lawyers who participate in social networks, 19 percent said yes. Among solos, 24 percent said yes.
  • Of lawyers who use Twitter, 6 percent said yes (down from 11 percent in 2012).

The Legal Technology Survey Report is published in six volumes. Each volume can be purchased for $350 or, for ABA members, for $300. The volumes are:

A combined edition and executive summary will be available later this month.

The findings discussed above came from the volume on web and communication technology.

Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.