Few things in life are certain. However, I can think of one. What is for certain –a new medium has entered into our lives and it’s not going away any time soon. The commercial Internet –the World Wide Web– only 16 years old, has changed everything. It has touched the very fiber of our business and personal activity. It is as life altering, to name a few examples, as electricity, manufacturing, the automobile, the airplane and modern medicine.
To early adopters of all things enabled by the Internet; Web sites, email, enterprise relationship management tools, eNews blasts, social computing services such as blogging, Twitter, and social networking, it looks like law firms move at glacial speed.
Fact is, being a conservative industry in its essence; most law firms are quite content to be first to be second. It’s not an especially entrepreneurial industry, though you will find a few lawyers and law firms who move in that direction. Ethically the legal industry must act as fiduciaries to their clients and their profession. They are risk averse.
Without a sense of urgency, law firm management will not see the investment in this medium as mission critical. Yet, as history shows, once the precedent is set and measured by their competition, most will come rushing in. Can you think of any law firm that doesn’t have a Web site? Or use email? These were huge decisions for law firms in the last decade of the prior century. Carefully vetted for any misstep or potential liability before being deployed. And, I’m the first to say that the digital footprint needs to be managed carefully. I help my clients in this regard.
Social computing tools are the trend du jour. While the specific services and tools will likely evolve or change, the basic medium upon which they are delivered -the Internet, is here to stay. The context for the tools and the purpose of the tools may change too. But for now, social computing is increasing in value and respect within the legal industry. In the right hands and with the right policy in place these tools can make a positive difference in reach and message, beyond just marketing.
In my next post I’ll share a check list of what all law firm marketers need to know about social computing for their law firm, whether they choose to participate now, later or not.