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Very Simply, THIS Is Why Lawyers Need LinkedIn

“I have a LinkedIn. But I don’t know where it is.” – Actual quote from a law firm senior partner.
Ross Fishman, JD

I hear variations of this comment every week. Many lawyers struggle with social media; they’re always asking me about it — how it works, and whether they need it.

Lawyers who don’t understand LinkedIn often proclaim that they don’t need it. Some excuses I often hear include “I have a referral practice,” or, “My clients aren’t looking for their lawyers on LinkedIn.” OK, fair point. But even if that were true, that doesn’t mean you still don’t need a killer LinkedIn profile.

I’ve presented 100+ social media training programs for lawyers and marketers; it’s been among the hottest marketing training and retreat topics for at least the past five years. Not surprisingly, the bulk of the recent queries involves how and why attorneys should use LinkedIn.

There’s significant misinformation regarding the value of LinkedIn. Most business lawyers I know won’t be actively trolling around LinkedIn, sorting their Premium lists, identifying second-degree friend-of-friend connections and looking to generate hot new leads. (Not that they can’t or shouldn’t, but c’mon — readers of Legal Management know that most lawyers won’t.)

And particularly today, when everyone’s so darn busy, they’re also not going to take the time to regularly write articles or post LinkedIn status updates.

Essentially, most lawyers aren’t going to be LinkedIn Power Users. And that’s absolutely fine. 

When social media was just gaining steam, a variety of highly visible marketing consultants were selling the idea that everyone needed a LinkedIn profile. Many self-anointed “LinkedIn experts” generated a nice, steady income charging firms to set up profiles for all the firms’ lawyers.

That sounded good in theory; however, it yielded the entirely predictable result — empty lawyer profiles devoid of personality or useful information, and very few personal connections. I think that makes them look silly, like a technology amateur dabbling in something they don’t really understand because someone told them they were supposed to. I don’t think that’s the image they should be cultivating. 


These days, most prospects who are interested in hiring a lawyer will read both the lawyer’s website biography and their LinkedIn profile to obtain additional information, e.g. identifying who they know in common.

This means that at a particularly critical time in our clients’ buying process — when they’re considering adding you to the shortlist — you can use LinkedIn to shape your story in a way that creates a positive impression.

Or you can entirely fail to. 

Some argue it’s better to have an empty profile than no profile at all. This might be a subject of legitimate debate, but I think that in a 21st century economy, you can’t completely ignore technology. (Not to mention a lawyer’s ethical duty to maintain a minimum level of technological competence.) Personally, if you’re going to ignore LinkedIn, I think it’s better to look like you’re too busy to need it rather than too ineffectual to use it correctly.

The good news is that once you have a credible LinkedIn profile, it’s a marketing tool that lingers. It sits online near the top of the first page for every single Google search for your name, 24/7/365, just waiting patiently to tell interested prospects your story.
“These days, most prospects who are interested in hiring a lawyer will read both the lawyer’s website biography and their LinkedIn profile to obtain additional information, e.g. identifying who they know in common.”

Yes, setting up a credible LinkedIn attorney profile can require a fairly sizable upfront time commitment. But it’s worth it. And you can get help. There are plenty of legitimate legal marketing consultants and writers who can help. I’ve written my share of bold lawyer “About” sections. (For a few of my favorite examples, click here, here and here.)

Here’s a snippet from a good opening of a LinkedIn “About” section. Below is part of a bio I wrote for one of the nation’s top big-case insurance-defense trial lawyers. I wanted him to be bold, to lead with his remarkable trial record, without seeming to brag too much about it:

Litigators talk about being accomplished trial lawyers, although fewer and fewer actual big cases go to trial. When they do, I defend a lot of them — I start a seven- to nine-figure trial nearly every single month. Year round. Nationwide. And I win more than my share of them. … Basically, I defend multimillion dollar catastrophic-loss, personal injury and property damage cases, nonstop, year-round. I’ve tried major cases to juries in over 25 states, including some of toughest, most plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. 

Working LinkedIn like a lead-generating IBM salesperson requires a level of savvy and effort that is beyond the skills and needs of most attorneys ― although some tech-savvy lawyers looking to ramp up their business-development efforts are showing positive results.

Start with the “About” section. It’s the vital narrative part for lawyers who want to get the marketing benefit of LinkedIn without investing too much time.