Are Managing Partners Anti-Social? the Survey Says …

Some of you may have seen the Canadian Legal Digital Survey report (or the infographic that gives you the highlights) that was released by my firm, fSquared Marketing, last week. If so, you may have realized that something was missing. But before I get into that, for those of you unfamiliar with the report, here’s some background.

In recent years, we’ve seen various reports and analyses that seek to understand the needs of in-house counsel. However, the majority of these surveys are initiated by, and focused on, the US market. This implies, perhaps incorrectly, that Canadians both find and consume legal services and information in the same manner as their American counterparts.

We wanted to see where the truth lay and so the first annual Canadian Legal Digital Survey was born. The focus of the research was traditional digital interaction, web and social media engagement and related areas such as content marketing, client feedback programs, electronic billing, client portals, and directories. The targeted participants were in-house counsel at companies across Canada, and managing partners at Canadian law firms and Canadian offices of non-Canadian law firms.

We set out to compare the usage and views of both constituencies. But there was something missing from our research – the managing partners. The survey was sent by e-mail which was followed up by a phone call encouraging participation. Marketing Directors and Managers were contacted to encourage their MP’s to participate. The survey responses were anonymous. And yet, only 8 managing partners, out of the 208 that received the survey, participated.

So why did so few managing partners participate in our survey? Is it a lack of understanding, a lack of experience or simply a lack of time? Could it be that they, like many lawyers, are not entirely enamoured with the idea that social media, content marketing and the internet are tools to be used in their practice development?

I honestly don’t know the answer to the why, but I do believe they should be more engaged in their digital strategy based purely on the survey results from their in-house colleagues, the highlights of which include:

  • Web is now main stream. A lawyer can no longer legitimately say that it doesn’t matter if he or she has a presence on the internet. When 83% of in-house counsels use the web to consume legal industry information on a daily or weekly basis, this is a medium that must be taken seriously.
  • Content marketing influences hiring. With almost 75% of In-House Counsel saying that lawyer-authored articles and speeches influence their hiring decisions, it’s imperative for law firms to ensure that they provide clients and prospects with the best, most interesting content they can make available.
  • Lawyer bios command attention. With 78% of our in-house counsel respondents using lawyer bios to research potential outside counsel, they were the second most important factor in researching lawyers for hire.
  • Most in-house counsel remain “Invisible”. Our research indicates that 90% of those who use social media don’t post information. Rather, they just listen to stay informed of the latest news, developments and conversations on topics of interest.
  • LinkedIn is king. LinkedIn is at the forefront of on-line professional communication. 24% of our respondents use LinkedIn daily, while just shy of 50% use it at least once a week. Specific uses include connecting with other in-house colleagues (39%) and connecting with business or industry leaders (41%). Following at quite a distance was Twitter (10%) and Facebook (7%).
  • If you write a blog, they will read it. Our research showed that 54% of in-house Counsel use lawyer-authored blogs to research potential outside counsel. More than half of your potential prospects read blogs as they research the outside lawyers they are hiring.

Given that so many in-house clients find digital to be a credible source of information we can hope that maybe next year managing partners will participate in our survey and tell us what they really think.

If you’d like to read the full report, go to

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