As a self-described “young female litigator” three years ago she was looking for an outlet – a means to think, write and perhaps connect. She started a blog – The Limber Lawyer – and something magical happened: people started reading it. And her musings opened up opportunities.
For Victoria Santoro, an associate with the Boston-based law firm Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, P.C., the experience convinced her blogging would lead to opportunities for her law firm. Law firm blogging would develop “a chance to talk to people, prospects, referrals, new friends and creates opportunities to engage.”
The firm hired Ms. Santoro out of law school and she soon made a pitch to the firm’s partners for starting a blog. Today, she’s just one member of a team that contributes to the law firm blog, a range of legal resource sites, and she is scheduled for a panel at the Super Market Marketing Conference 2015.
Client Expectations and Cultural Shift
It used to be that networking took place face-to-face but a combination of slipping association involvement, coupled with the seismic and magnetic pull of social media requires a change in approach.
There is a cultural shift in expectations among law firm clients and prospects today, she said in a telephone interview. Clients want to be understood by their attorneys, have a desire to see them share personality, and have an inherent need to know that their lawyers are involved in the community.
“Blogging gives people a glimpse into who you are as a lawyer and person,” she said. “There are hundreds of millions of people out there on social media – that’s where the people are and that’s where you build the relationship.”
Case for Blogging like Educating a Judge or Jury
Ms. Santoro likens blogging to her particular practice of law – and that’s how she made the case to the firm’s partners for blogging.
“I am decades younger and when I started [her job at the law firm] it was apparent right off the bat I was bringing experiences the firm hadn’t been exposed to,” she said. “A big part of being a trial lawyer is educating a jury or judge – same thing here with a fresh idea.”
She found a receptive audience among partners and the law firm’s blog soon went live with a simple process: On Monday mornings the staff exchange ideas, assign a writer with the goal of publishing once per week. Finally, the content is shared across the law firm’s social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and also through the personal accounts of the attorneys.
It’s worth pointing out, Ms. Santoro notes the firm has a paralegal on staff with a talent for editing copy for the web – a valuable asset to the blogging team.
3 Tips for Sustaining a Small Law Blog
It’s probably every bit as challenging to maintain a blog as it is to start one, especially given the time constraints of the billable hour. Ms. Santoro has three tips for keeping a law blog:
1. Secure buy-in at the outset. If the partners understand the case for blogging and buy into it, they aren’t “going to let it slip” once it’s started, she said.
2. Set reasonable expectations. Small law firms don’t have the marketing resources in larger firms so it’s important to start slow and set reasonable expectations.
3. Be consistent. Every firm will have periods where client work is especially busy. If a firm falls out of the blogging habit “forgive yourself and get back to it,” said Ms. Santoro.
Two outcomes have become apparent to the firm as a result of its blogging efforts. First, it’s how engrained the activity has become in culture. Even in routine meetings unrelated to blogging, it’s becoming a colloquialism for someone to sound off with, “We should blog about that idea.”
Second, the client impact has been “eye-opening” in how it’s helped develop deeper client relationships. She notes the value of a new client visiting the office for the first time and referencing a post – it’s like having a little bit of a relationship already which helps put new clients at ease.
“I represent injured people and it’s important they feel comfortable with me right off the bat.”
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Ms. Santoro will participate in a panel discussion on social media for lawyers at the 5th Annual Super Marketing Conference 2015 on June 4, 2015. The event, being held in Boston, is co-sponsored by Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (LOMAP) and the American Bar Association Law Practice Division (ABA).
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