Legal Technology Conference: Online Marketing for Lawyers

I was fortunate to have been invited by Asia Business Forum to speak at the Legal Technology Conference held on 16 – 17 December 2008. A friend of mine, Eddie Law, was the one who put forward my name to the organisors.It was a great experience overall and this was the first time I had given an external talk outside of the Bar and outside of the office. I had a 45-minute slot and I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to fill up that entire slot.

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My presentation was on Online Marketing for Lawyers: How Lawyers Can Increase Their Online Presence. Having firstly defined what is marketing especially in the context of the provision of legal services, I quickly touched on the more traditional forms of marketing. I was going to touch on three forms of online marketing, being websites, blogs and social networking platforms. However, before I launched into the three areas, I set out the legal framework governing the level of publicity or marketing allowed in the legal profession.

In Malaysia, the ‘code of conduct’ of lawyers is set out under the Legal Profession Act as well as its various rules. Under the publicity rules and certain Bar Council rulings, there are restrictions on the level of publicity that can be made in the electronic media.

Having set out some of these restrictions, I weighed in with my criticism of the heavy restriction of publicity. On the one hand, I recognised to need to protect the dignity of the profession and to prevent soliciting and touting for work, and on the other hand, there is a need for law firms to not only market for clients in a local environment, but to also market themselves globally against other law firms.

I moved on to the first method of online marketing that of websites. I shared some practical tips on ideas for presentation as well as ideas for content. I took screenshots of some law firm websites to give ideas while also highlighting some of the recent trends in content on some of the websites.

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In relation to blogs, I used some of the content from an earlier article on bLAWgs and how the growth of law blogs is also seen on the Wall Street Journal’s law page. It features breaking law stories from around the web with the majority of the stories coming from blogs.

The lure of blogs as a marketing tool is simple. If people are reading what you are writing on a daily basis, and you are writing interesting things that are helping them understand how their business works, it is natural that they will want to contact you and harness more of your expertise.

Finally, I then elaborated on the rise of social networking platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn. The use of LinkedIn especially could be of benefit as a marketing tool. It focuses on professional connections as opposed to Facebook’s focus on personal connections. The appeal of social networking can also be seen in Legal OnRamp. A social networking website, only by invitation only, for in-house counsel along with certain law firms.

Attendance at the conference was low, which was really a shame. There was some very interesting talks, especially on the use of technology as an aid to litigation, or the roll-out of the e-court system here in Malaysia. I met a number of interesting individuals and I look forward to keeping in touch with them.

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