A few weeks ago, I penned a blog piece titled “Is Linked-In a legal directory?”
Pleasingly, I had a good response to the post on various discussion boards.
Among the most interesting responses was from a Chicago-based attorney Michael Erdman, who uses LinkedIn in an active hands-on way to identify and locate lawyers in unfamiliar parts of the U.S and overseas.
“If I needed to find an attorney in Sweden, Louisville, etc, some of my first moves would be posting concise requests on LinkedIn as a general “status update” and as a discussion point in one or more pertinent LinkedIn groups. I’ve done this many times before with quick, relevant results. Another upside is often times I’m hearing from someone who knows/has worked with the attorney they are referring to me, and sometimes I end up “connecting” with the person providing me the referral. Not a dig on other online/offline resources, but I think LinkedIn is a great resource for referral purposes.”
Mr. Erdman (and no doubt others) use LinkedIn as a modern form of the internal request for information about a lawyer you commonly see in law firms and businesses.
When I worked inside a large global law firm, I would regularly see internal emails fly around asking whether anyone knew a lawyer with specific expertise.
The emails would go something like this:
“I’m looking for a good corporate lawyer in Colombia.”
Or more precise requests such as:
“Does anyone know a lawyer in the Netherlands, who is also US qualified, and can advise a Dutch company on setting up a Cayman Islands special purpose vehicle?”
I have tended to view LinkedIn as a secondary source where one goes to find out more information about a person or lawyer whose name they already have from, say, a personal recommendation, referral, or traditional legal directory.
However, for some at least, LinkedIn appears to have partly replaced the many phone calls and emails that fly around the legal sector in an attempt to match up clients with suitably skilled lawyers.
Some lawyers are using LinkedIn as a primary tool to identify and locate attorneys with the right mix of skills.
So does this pose a challenge to legal directories?
Well, I agree with legal consultant John Grimley who made the point that, far from sounding their death knell, LinkedIn may actually open up opportunities for legal directories to be more imaginative and carve out specific niches.
As John said:
“I too am a fan of LinkedIn – but frankly most lawyers around the world aren’t on LinkedIn – and if they are – they’re inactive. I differ with any industry consultant who says most lawyers are on LinkedIn. They’re not. And many if not most lawyers in sophisticated international practice – aren’t on LinkedIn. Legal directories will remain important – and I also think we’ll see them become more niche focused – with new competitors entering the market – who may not create platforms to match of compete with the traditional legal directories – but rather offer totally new concepts that many find interesting. Legal directories are by no means dead – in fact I’d argue they’re going to go through a renewed renaissance.”