• Study Reveals Lack of Social Media Training & Strategy among law firms
  • Few large law have strategies or training in place to cover social media use
  • 46% have seen colleagues or contacts send ‘unprofessional’ tweets
  • Top uses of social media: networking or business development

A new study by legal and tax information solutions provider, Thomson Reuters, has revealed how law firms* in Australia are using social media, and, with practitioners being offered little training in this area and a lack of overriding strategy, there could be a raft of problems on the horizon.

Social Media At Law Firms Info Graph

Download the full Info Graphic: Social Media Usage Among Large
Australian Law Firms

More than 100* senior legal practitioners at large law firms** across Australia were questioned in research in October 2012 commissioned to help Thomson Reuters understand exactly how professionals are using social media in a work context.

While 75% of those questioned used social media in a professional capacity, just 39% of firms offered any kind of formal training for using social networks, and 24% didn’t have any central social media strategy in place. A further 65% admitted that there were people in their firm actively using social media who didn’t fully understand how the platforms worked.

It appears that this could be resulting in some issues; 13% of professionals admitted they ‘frequently’ saw colleagues, peers or contacts sending tweets they deemed ‘unprofessional’, while 33% said they occasionally saw this happening. The fact that 15% of firms relied solely on junior staff to manage their social media activity could perhaps also explain this.

There also emerged a raft of fears towards social media; 73% of legal practitioners said they were afraid of saying the wrong thing, 52% said they were concerned they’d make the firm sound unprofessional while 36% said their fear was exposing confidential or sensitive company information.

Of those who didn’t actively use social media professionally, 41% claimed it was because they were risk-averse, 30% said they didn’t have time, while 27% didn’t have the technical nous.

On a more positive note, the most popular uses of social media among legal professionals emerged as networking (63%), positioning the firm as forward-thinking (48%) and generating leads and business development (40%). The majority (35%) said people at all levels are responsible for social media, while 34% relied on an internal marketing department, and 15% on junior staff.

The role of social media when it comes to knowledge management also came under the spotlight, and rather than saving time, the vast majority of people (83%) admitted there was often or sometimes too much information to keep up with. A further 28% say social media takes up too much of their time and 22% suffer from information overload. And while the majority of law firms (55%) say they now spend more time consuming media than they used to, there emerged a general lack of trust (46%) to ‘citizen journalism’. Despite this, 16% say social media sources always plays some role in their research and 45% say it often does.

Carl Olson, Commercial Director at Thomson Reuters Legal, Tax & Accounting ANZ, comments: “Social media is not going away anytime soon, and as our research shows, a huge proportion of law firms are now waking up to the very real benefits it presents. However, what’s most concerning is the fact that staff training and development, not to mention marketing strategy, has not caught up yet. This means firms are exposing themselves to unnecessary risks.

“It is also important for legal professionals to recognise not only the opportunities, but also the limitations of social media. For example, just as professionals are using social media for networking, it’s unlikely they would do this at the expense of face-to-face meetings. Similarly, while social media now plays an increasingly influential role when it comes to knowledge management, there remains a place for trusted, authoritative content from legal publishers like Thomson Reuters.”


*Study questioned 103 senior staff/partners across large legal firms in Australia in October 2012.

For media enquiries, contact Will Ockenden on 0415 731 360 or email will@lucresydney.com

Thomson Reuters is the world's leading source of intelligent information for businesses and professionals. We combine industry expertise with innovative technology to deliver critical information to leading decision makers in the financial, legal, tax and accounting, healthcare and science and media markets, powered by the world's most trusted news organization. With headquarters in New York and major operations in London and Eagan, Minnesota, Thomson Reuters employs more than 55,000 people and operates in over 100 countries. For more information, go to www.thomsonreuters.com.

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