WEDNESDAY 14 JUN 2017 1:55 PM


Global digital trends often remain unpredictable, and many law firms have traditionally favoured a slow, considered approach to widespread digital transformation. For creative agency, Living Group, measuring the digital intelligence of the world’s leading law firms has long championed the mantra, ‘Content is king.’ Now, after recent findings suggest that the legal sector’s digital practices are changing at a rapid pace, law firms must value quality over quantity when considering digital strategy.

In a recent opinion piece for Transform magazine, Duncan Shaw, co-founder and executive creative director of Living Group, clarified the importance of harnessing digital within the legal sector. This week, the results of Living Group’s Living Ratings reaffirmed that digital leadership is central to driving engagement for law firms. Shaw says, “The way ahead for digital communicators is clear. In order to increase web traffic and potential new business leads, law firms need to find a way to get fantastic and relevant content on their websites, blogs and social media channels.”

This year’s Living Ratings found that as many as 17 of the world’s 100 leading law firms are maximising digital effectiveness through client-centric digital communications, channelled through social media platforms and content. Yet keeping a finger on the pulse of the legal sector’s digital developments requires an analytical process that, for Living Group and the Living Ratings, incorporates a dynamic and perceptive categorisation of criteria.

Implementing a changing set of criteria each year, the 2017 Living Ratings considers search quality, geolocation, guided navigation, enhanced partner biographies, prominent diversity proposition and bolt-on client enablers. A further breakdown of results designated four principle categories defining performance: determined, energetic, focused and lacklustre. On the successful end of the rankings, approximately 93% of firms were active on LinkedIn and Twitter, with 83% providing links from web content to social media and 79% of websites passing Google’s mobile friendly test.

On the less successful end of the rankings, 45% of firms were recorded to have been tweeting original content daily. In line with the criteria, 42% of underperforming firms offered enhanced partner biographies with as little as 18% using geolocation functionality on their websites. Yet one of the key markers of social media effectiveness, for Shaw, is Instagram. This year’s Instagram ratings showed that 14% of firms were active on the photo sharing app, yet Living Group’s findings concluded that the platform had the most potential for the legal sector, with many firms unaware of its fast-paced, easy sharing impact.

Yet primarily, digital leadership requires the need for original content, as well as an improved focus on strong headlines. With 80% of people reading headlines, but only 20% reading on, implementing sharp, integrated and effective digital content across the legal sector is central to maintaining engagement.


For an updated insight into the digital challenges facing the legal sector, continue below. 


Mind the brand gap


Transforming ‘old school’ law firms into switched-on service brands

We’ve got a question for you. How big is your ‘brand gap’? That’s the gulf between the external perception of your firm, and the brand and digital footprint that supports it out there in the real world. Or, to put it another way, the gulf between the quality of your people and your ability to sell what they do.

Marketing professional services ain’t what it used to be. With the clubbable world of the ‘old school tie’ largely a figment of the past and the competitive environment more ruthless than ever, the creation of a robust and relevant legal brand can be a powerful enabler – and an engine of growth – in otherwise turbulent and challenging times.


Consult on this

Think for a moment about how the large accountants and consultants got with the program. In the space of just 20 years, since the dawn of the consumer internet, they transformed their brands and brand platforms, all backed with media spend designed to land the message: we are outward looking and future focused. Ernst & Young became EY, asking thought-provoking questions of its audience. Deloitte sells its services around ‘actions’ that ‘do the talking’. PwC will tell you that it exists to ‘solve important problems’. These professional service brands became relevant and connected – positioned ahead of the curve.

So why should some law firms still seem locked in the 1990s, especially when it comes to translating and refocusing their brands for the digital age? Establishing an effective brand can shape and inform every aspect of your communications – internal and external, online and offline, to clients, prospects, journalists… and, in the war for talent, to rising stars and prospective hires.

Your brand should do more than become your outward face, defining who you are and how you tell your story. It can power the tools you use and describe your difference: a platform for everything from reshaping your service offering to inspiring innovation and change.

Put simply, a reinvigorated brand is not a new logo. It is a new way of thinking and working.


It’s not who you know… it’s who you don’t know

Now think beyond your current roster of clients and prospects, to the sectors less travelled and the start-ups you don’t yet know. How are you reaching them? How will they find you?

The way that clients ‘buy law’ is changing. A new generation of in-house counsel lives online and researches online. And given that by some estimates up to 70% of your prospective buyers will first check out your firm or your lawyers before picking up the phone, the implications for your corporate website are clear. It has become your primary brand platform: a 24/7 resource to invest in, nurture and grow. Time, perhaps, to take a leaf out of PwC’s book. Its top strategic priority? ‘Be technology enabled’.

Our latest industry-wide brand and communications analysis, Living Ratings, makes sobering reading if you’re a legal partner or marketer. Many firms are busy playing digital catch-up. This is an encouraging sign. But some of the biggest legal names get a score of ‘must try harder’ for their online communications.

At Living, we work in close collaboration with law firms of all shapes and sizes, from boutique media and IP specialists to US-based international networks. We see life at the sharp end – and understand a sector in the throes of transformation, with cut-throat competition on all fronts.

Our brand revitalisations deliver real dividends for our law clients. By invigorating one international firm’s brand and digital platform, we enabled savings of over $500k in recruitment fees in the first 12 months alone. Better branded pitch books mean more meetings. Another client of ours noted an uplift of over 25% in final or shortlisted pitches as a result of their new, sharper and more relevant look – while enabling direct digital access to partners has lifted engagement with prospects by over 65%.


Get with the tech

Today, digital savviness is the mark of the agile, entrepreneurial law firm. These firms describe their ability to solve business problems, rather than providing a hard-to-navigate shopping list of services. They engage round-the-clock, using digital channels as conduits for news, insights and solutions. And in an ever more homogenised market, they create brands that stand out, making their specialisms relevant and their points of difference unique. Now, just how big is your brand gap?


Duncan Shaw is executive creative director at Living Group