The Social Paralegal: 4 Ways to Use Social Media in Your Law Firm

Social media is ubiquitous. From LinkedIn to Facebook to Snapchat to Reddit, it seems like every one of us is involved in using social media in one form or another. However, there are other ways to use social media beyond staying connected, especially in regards to law firm social media.

In the legal social sphere, paralegals or attorneys automatically think it’s inappropriate to be super active online. If you’re sharing biased opinions or drawing negative attention to your case, then yes, it’s probably inappropriate. But, there are so many other ways law firm social media can enhance your firm’s position and your personal career.

Here are four ways social media can enhance your firm’s position in the legal space…

1. Social media as listening tool

You can use law firm social media to pay attention to what people are saying–about a case, your firm, a particular practice area, or a currently heavy legal topic. Which social media platform you use will depend on what kind of “listening in” you want to do. And unlike the fly-on-the-wall approach we might take in our personal lives as we silently observe friends’ dialogs on Facebook, this kind of listening in takes a strategic approach.

Hootsuite suggests five ways to use social media as a listening tool:

  1. Use LinkedIn to keep tabs on how your law firm is stacking up against competitors.
  2. Dig deeper than Google Alerts when doing research for a case. (More on that below.)
  3. Use social media to stay on top of client industries and issues, so you’re informed and can be proactive when necessary.
  4. In a similar way, use social listening to stay ahead of public opinion on matters relevant to your clientele or law firm.
  5. Use social media to conduct research for cases, as well as on witnesses and potential jurors.

If you learn to master even one of these ways to use social media as a listening tool, you will help to promote your law firm and improve on its performance in the industry.

2. Social media for research and analysis

Social media can be used for more than just listening in. It can also be used for in-depth research, as we briefly mentioned above. Although many law firms utilize Google Alerts to monitor cases and key issues, that tool only scans the surface because it’s triggered by words or phrases used. Social media can go beyond press releases and online articles to provide a comprehensive scan of relevant and real-time intelligence on public opinion, industry trends and actual corporate data.

To use social media for research and analysis, check into some social media monitoring tools (you can find a list of 10 free ones here). Choose one to get familiar with and use that tool on behalf of your firm.

3. Social media for competitive advantage

You can use social media for a competitive advantage in two ways: You can follow other law firms to keep tabs on their marketing activities, as we mentioned in our first tip. You can also use social media for promotion of your law firm.

Once you start applying the suggestions above, you’ll be well positioned to start using law firm social media for marketing because you will know what people are talking about and in what way. You’ll know in which areas your law firm can provide new insight, and you can use the tools above to monitor how you’re doing against competing law firms.

4. Social media for networking

Finally, let’s talk about the “social” in social media: networking. Social media makes it possible to expand your firm’s network virtually and broadly. To find people to network with, consider who uses the same hashtags as your firm, who posts the articles you find most interesting, and who works in a position relevant to your own—just for starters.

With the universality of social media, you can connect with people who are across the country or across the globe, and build relationships personally, as well as for your law firm. This kind of social media networking can bring in new business, help with recruiting and hiring, and even help your law firm find a virtual lawyer, if needed.

One caveat: social media requires care

Social media is highly beneficial to your law firm if used wisely. It can help your law firm do better work for clients, achieve and maintain a competitive advantage, and broaden your sphere of influence. It does come with caveats, however, because social media is also fraught with dangers, especially for those in the legal profession. For that reason, we highly recommend you take a few minutes to review the American Bar Association’s top 10 tips for avoiding ethical lapses when using social media—before you dive right in.