LinkedIn Lawyers

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562983_business.jpgLexBlog and the Vancouver Law Librarian Blog are reporting that a growing number of attorneys are using LinkedIn to enhance their professional connectivity. Says law librarian Steve Mathews:

I mentioned LinkedIn during an in-house presentation at my law firm a few weeks back, and knew at that point about 15% of our Lawyers were on it. Checking back today, that number has jumped to around 35%. And that doesn’t include either students (it’s almost a given that every new student has an account) or the non-lawyers in the firm (eg. yours truly).

Lawyers already get networking for BD [Business Development] and the “it’s who you know” concept, so these numbers really shouldn’t surprise.

Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog, a company that helps law firms set up and make effective use of blogs, has some specific advice for his clients regarding who to connect with:

I’m advising LexBlog clients to used LinkedIn for building the network of people they’re meeting through their blog. That network should include:

  • Bloggers whose content our clients reference in their own blog.
  • Bloggers who reference our clients’ blog content.
  • Reporters whose content our clients’ reference in their own blog.
  • Bloggers who they admire and who blog they subscribe to.
  • Reporters and journalists they have been interviewed by.
  • Program coordinators for conferences the blogger has presented or wants to present at.
  • Lawyers and other folks they meet whether via email or conference appearances.

Do this for 6 months and you are going to have hundreds of connections to reach out to for various purposes. And those connections are updating their profile and their connections on LinkedIn all the time. Much more powerful than your contact manager.

One of the things attorneys have to watch out for, of course, is client confidentiality. Attorneys probably want to turn off connection browsing, for starters. You also might consider only connecting in LinkedIn with clients that your relationship with is public knowledge. I feel kind of silly being the one telling lawyers to be careful about this, but it’s worth mentioning.

You also might consider asking for service provider recommendations from satisfied clients. This is a great way to enhance your reputation and visibility within LinkedIn.

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  1. LinkedIn is the ideal solution for an attorney I would think. Recently, I am having a particular issue collecting fees from a past client for some work that was completed. It came to the point where I wasn’t getting anywhere and needed to bring in some legal insight. Any lawyer can write a collections letter – so can I. I was looking for someone who did this all the time, a real “bulldog” so to speak.

    I found an attorney connected to another friend and was able to check out his backround. Sure enough, I found one gentleman who spent 3 years as a collection agent before starting his own firm. HIRED. LinkedIn worked perfectly in this situation for both myself (I found exactly the type of person I was hoping to) and the attorney (who earned the fee solely because he was connected to my network in LinkedIn.

    If I were in Law, I’d be all over this.

  2. Point well take Scott. Some areas of practice are a lot more public about their client relationships than others, eg. Securities or Real Estate development. Lawyers are ethically required to get client consent for name use in marketing materials. I’m not sure I’d recommend shutting down connection browsing – it’s kind of a key feature – but securing those consents prior to establishing any kind of social software connection is definitely important.

  3. Seems to me that the method of connecting to others on networking sites builds the securing of consent right into the process. If I request a link to a client, they are the ones who control whether that link is created.

  4. It seems obvious that attorneys should be using LinkedIn for social networking. As a court reporting firm owner, I connect to clients and top service providers, CEOs of companies that I come into contact with. You never know who you might need to know someday. LinkedIn is a way for attorneys to network and “advertise” in a professional and accepted manner. I believe social networking is all about “paying it forward,” and if you can help a colleague by doing introductions or recommending a service provider, and you are authentic, you are going to get opportunity. As the old saying goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.”

  5. In my opinion any lawyer should take as many online opportunities as possible, to become more and more visible. Websites like LinkedIn is excellent place for that – it’s free! and any other social websites are great way to promote, the only one thing the lawyers need to focus… to do a great job, and try to involve each happy client to help them to be visible online… it’s even easy and I would say cheap way to find people to do the online work for them.

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