July 10, 2008
Survey Reveals Growth in Online Professional Networking Among Legal Professionals, Appetite for Lawyer-Specific Networking Solutions
A new survey reveals that almost 50 percent of attorneys are members of online social networks and over 40 percent of attorneys believe professional networking has the potential to change the business and practice of law over the next five years. However, less than ten percent say they can rely on their current network to help them work more efficiently and cost effectively. The survey of 650 attorneys also reveals a high degree of interest - more than 40 percent - among lawyers in joining an online professional network designed specifically for their profession.
The 2008 Networks for Counsel Survey, conducted by Leader Networks - a consultancy that helps businesses foster online social networks - and commissioned by LexisNexis(R) Martindale-Hubbell(R) - the industry leader in networking and law firm marketing - is the first survey of its scope to examine the social networking practices of legal professionals.
"The legal profession is traditionally slow to adopt new technologies, so attorneys' readiness to use online networking tools represents a significant shift in behavior. With our expertise in social networking for businesses, Leader Networks has seen that private online communities are one of the best ways to bring professionals together for business networking," said Vanessa DiMauro, president of Leader Networks and author of The 2008 Networks for Counsel Survey. "We recognize a real need for a private, online network for attorneys given the results of this survey."
"Online professional networking is a growing area of importance in the legal industry," said Ralph Calistri, CEO of Martindale Hubbell and senior vice president of Global Client Development at LexisNexis. "As we develop a global network for the legal community through Martindale-Hubbell, objective research such as this survey by Leader Networks serves as an important way for us to listen to clients and guide our efforts."
Networking is Essential for Attorneys, but Difficult
The survey found that attorneys leverage collaboration tools and referrals to serve the needs of the organizations they represent to find clients, and to identify specialized attorneys and other resources. However, traditional methods of networking are increasingly difficult:
-- Private practice attorneys rated client referrals or recommendations first (59 percent) and peer referral or recommendation second (55 percent) as the most effective means of networking;
-- Relationship-based methods surface next most frequently, including in-person networking events (28 percent) and alumni relationships (26 percent);
-- 52 percent agreed or strongly agreed that it is harder to stay connected with colleagues and peers;
-- Only 16 percent of respondents felt that they had the time or resources to leverage current opportunities to network with their peers;
-- More than 60 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that it is hard to connect at conferences;
-- 61 percent reported networking internationally is difficult.
Online Networking Becoming Clear Option for Connecting, Generation Gaps Exists
According to the survey, legal professionals are starting to be "connected" through use of online social networking for personal and professional purposes; however, the majority of attorneys using social networking sites are between the ages of 25-35.
-- 54 percent of attorneys reported being a member of an online social network such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook or MySpace;
-- 33 percent of attorneys that are connected use social networks for personal use; 18 percent use for professional use and 49 percent use social networks for a combination of the two;
-- 67 percent of 25-35 year olds, 49 percent of 36-45 year olds, and 36 percent of 46-55+ year olds reported membership in an online social network.
Demand for Networks Specifically for Attorneys
Beyond the mainstream networks that have recently come into common use, a large number of private practice and corporate counsel attorneys are now interested in an online professional network specifically for lawyers.
-- 43 percent of Corporate Counsel and 53 percent of Private Practice Attorneys report that current versions of professional networks and online communities do not help them work more efficiently and cost effectively;
-- 54 percent of corporate counsel and 41 percent of private practice attorneys view linking to other attorneys or expanding ones' network as the most important feature an online professional network could provide;
-- More than 40 percent of all corporate counsel and private practice attorneys report an interest in joining an online professional network for lawyers.
The top five attributes considered when corporate counsel are deciding to join a professional legal network, are:
-- Access to information not found anywhere else (46 percent);
-- Ease of exchanging information/experiences (45 percent);
-- Ability to identify, evaluate and select private practice attorneys quickly (29 percent);
-- Finding the "right" attorney directly (26 percent);
-- Speed of collaboration (21 percent).
Attorneys Look to Trusted Brands to Deliver Networks
The survey found that attorneys are looking to well established brands that are respected and trusted across the legal industry to deliver professional networks.
Respondents revealed the following organizations can best deliver a professional network for lawyers:
-- 48 percent of attorneys identified Martindale-Hubbell as the best positioned organization;
-- 28 percent identified the American Bar Association as the best positioned organization;
-- 25 percent identified the Association of Corporate Counsel as the best positioned organization.
About the 2008 Networks for Counsel Survey
The 2008 Networks for Counsel Survey was administered to 224 private practice attorneys and 449 corporate counsel on an international basis, with 22 countries represented. Company size ranged from 100 to 10,000+ staff, and the age and responsibility of the respondents were well distributed. The findings are available online at www.leadernetworks.com.
LexisNexis(R) (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading global provider of business information solutions to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting and academic markets. LexisNexis originally pioneered online information with its Lexis(R) and Nexis(R) services. A member of Reed Elsevier (NYSE: ENL) (NYSE: RUK) (www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in more than 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide.
About Leader Networks
Leader Networks, founded by Vanessa DiMauro, brings over 15 years of social network and community building expertise to the enterprise. Leader Networks is a consulting firm that helps clients create professional peer networks and online executive communities, helping clients harness the power of new digital rules and tools to drive measurable business benefits from social media. Leader Networks provides a full suite of services for all stages of networking and community development. For more information, please visit www.leadernetworks.com.