DBR: Legal Marketing’s Next Digital Chapter Hinges on Numbers and Nimble Strategies

Attorneys are finally going digital. Social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of online tools for many organizations—even among notoriously "old school" lawyers.

By Katherine Doble | September 21, 2021

While vaccines are being rolled out and offices are slowly starting to reopen, many of the technological advancements law firms made last year seem to be here to stay. According to Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report, 83% of attorneys say they plan to continue using video conferencing software to meet with clients after the pandemic, and 96% will continue to store data in cloud-based servers.

The importance of digital marketing has also risen exponentially across all industries. Deloitte’s 2021 Global Marketing Report revealed that members of the C-suite think digital technology (68%) and marketing (63%) will be the most critical functional areas to their businesses over the next year. And according to a recent report released by McKinsey & Co., businesses are now three times likelier than they were before the pandemic to conduct the majority of customer interactions online.

As the head of a digital marketing agency that specializes in helping law firms, I’ve seen firsthand how the pandemic forced many attorneys to shift their client interactions and outreach tactics. It truly highlighted the importance of a strong digital presence and a 360-degree marketing strategy that effectively converts leads into sales.

COVID-19’s Impact on the Virtual Legal Landscape

During the initial coronavirus outbreak, outdated physical infrastructure such as paper-based systems and on-premise servers made it difficult for lawyers to manage their practice, communicate with clients and find new prospects. Ultimately, the attorneys that adapted to the virtual business environment came out ahead.

According to Clio’s 2020 Legal Trends Report, firms that had installed electronic systems such as online payments, client portals, and CRM software in 2020 consistently earned over 20% more revenue than firms that did not.

Law firms also turned to digital marketing tactics to stay ahead of their competitors. According to the ABA 2020 Legal Technology Survey Report, more than one in four firms with marketing departments increased their budgets, with the top top-three marketing channels being event sponsorship (48%), LinkedIn (42%), and email (41%). Among the firms that reported using social media, LinkedIn and Facebook were by far the most popular options.

Andrew Kaplan, a director of product marketing at LinkedIn, said in an interview that law firms are leveraging the platform to promote their expertise and create brand awareness targeted at specific audiences. They are also using LinkedIn to generate quality leads for potential clients. From my experience working with attorneys, I can say that, in addition to LinkedIn, they are now using a myriad of digital channels to accomplish these goals, including newsletters, blogs, and even TikTok. (Think criminal law attorneys explaining the importance of knowing your rights.)

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