Large firms turn to thought leadership marketing

Social media: Lawyers upping their game

The largest law firms in the country have embraced thought leadership marketing, making twice as many insights available online – including greater use of social media – as they did four years ago, according to research released today.

The findings from marketing platform Passle showed that some of the largest City firms have significantly improved their approach, with Bird & Bird, Taylor Wessing and CMS all featuring among the 10 firms ranked best at showcasing their expertise online and distributing it via social media.

The research – which aimed to discover which law firms were most successful in building their presence and demonstrating their expertise online – found that in 2018, the top 200 law firms generated 33,823 pieces of insight between them, nearly twice (93% more) as many as when Passle first looked at their output in 2014 (17,533).

There was a sharp divide between those that have committed to sharing their insights and those that have not, however – the top 20 firms in the table produced nearly 36% of all the content measured.

Passle ranked the top 200 firms across eight categories, including knowledge pieces created per-lawyer per-year, overall insights created, LinkedIn followers, Twitter followers and Twitter activity.

As in 2014, Irwin Mitchell was top of the pile, followed by: Bird & Bird, Wiggin, Taylor Wessing, Kingsley Napley, CMS, Withers, DAC Beachcroft, Capsticks and Stephens Scown, which was the only other firm that also made the top 10 in 2014.

By contrast, central London firm Hamlins was at the bottom of the list, edging out the likes of Optima Legal, Knights Professional Services, Ince Gordon Dadds, Mayo Wynne Baxter, Keebles, Hugh James and Simpson Millar.

In 2014, the headline finding was how many of the smaller firms in the top 200 were punching above their weight when it came to this type of content marketing, but four years on Passle said that many of the biggest firms have caught up.

Those ranked between 11 and 20 this year include Herbert Smith Freehills, Gowling WLG, Eversheds Sutherland, Fieldfisher and DLA Piper.

The top 200 collectively now have many more followers on Twitter (904,522, up 152% on 2014) – although only three have more 30,000 (DLA Piper, Allen & Overy and Irwin Mitchell) – and the number of tweets they sent out was up 49% to 126,162.

However, the most active accounts were not necessarily the most followed. Only two of the top 10 most active accounts – Irwin Mitchell and Eversheds Sutherland – were in the top 10 most followed.

City litigation firm Rosenblatt, Northampton-based Tollers and Stephens Scown in Exeter were the most active tweeters.

While law firms were more active on Twitter, Passle said their audience was looking more to LinkedIn to engage with legal brands, with the average number of LinkedIn followers almost twice the number of Twitter followers.

The average firm has slightly more than 9,000 followers and the top three (DLA Piper, Clifford Chance and Allen & Overy) have more than 100,000 followers each.

A sample of professionals showed that those producing their own knowledge pieces were more engaged with LinkedIn, posting 213% more over time than before they created insights.

Passle co-founder Adam Elgar said: “Research indicates that B2B buyers are completing more of their research and their overall purchase journey before contacting providers for advice. Our survey shows that many more law firms now understand the importance of not just saying they know what they’re talking about, but proving it by putting expertise in the public domain.

“People, and businesses, want to work with experts. But as they decide who to instruct, they also want a glimpse of their personality and specialism. Sharing insights online is an ideal way of doing that, and it need not be a time-consuming exercise.”

The top 200 firms can request a free benchmarking report at

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