The largest law firms in the UK and US “struggle to give their lawyers a voice” through thought leadership, new research has found.
The survey found that an average lawyer at a firm with more than 1,500 lawyers produced 57% fewer thought leadership articles last year than a lawyer at a smaller firm.
As a result, five of the top 10 largest law firms in the UK and US failed to make it into the top 30 when it came to thought leadership marketing.
Marketing platform Passle analysed the content produced by the top 200 law firms in the UK and the top 200 in the US for its 2022 US and UK Legal Digital Performance Index.
Thought leadership articles or ‘insights’ were defined as blogs or articles, excluding firm news, that demonstrate lawyers’ knowledge.
Baker McKenzie produced the most insights with 4,653, followed by US firms Squire Patton Boggs (2,394), Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft (2,013), Reed Smith (1,916) and GrayRobinson (1,829).
Squire Patton Boggs is ranked at 28th in terms of size in the US and Cadwalader 157th.
UK firms Herbert Smith Freehills, Slaughter and May and Pinsent Masons featured in sixth, eighth and tenth places.
However, when it came to insights per lawyer, there was wide variation in performance with Baker McKenzie recording 0.78, Reed Smith 1.24, Slaughter and May 3.09 and GrayRobinson 6.63.
Reed Smith was the only one of 25 firms above the 1,500-lawyer mark to produce more than one insight per lawyer.
Passle said the better performance of smaller firms “could be due to a number of factors, including marketing resources, approvals processes, web infrastructure, scaling training, and delivering feedback effectively to large numbers of authors”.
At the other end of the scale, 14 firms posted no thought leadership pieces at all, including fast-growing listed firm Knights, which employs almost 900 lawyers.
Researchers said the average firm among the 400 had 18,000 LinkedIn followers (32 per lawyer), 4,700 Twitter followers (18 per lawyer), and tweeted 1.4 times per day.
“LinkedIn continues to be the primary social media channel for law firms with 99% of the top 400 US and UK firms operating central brand accounts.
“The top 400 firms combined boast a total of over 7m LinkedIn followers, nearly four times the next closest channel, Twitter, where 96% of firms researched operated accounts totalling 1.8m followers.”
Baker McKenzie topped the table for LinkedIn followers with 338,468, followed by Clifford Chance (228,862) and DLA Piper (218,627).
When it came to Twitter followers, White & Case led the way with 63,889, followed by DLA Piper (42,034) and Allen & Overy (38,673).
Passle said an analysis of branded search traffic using the Google Adwords Traffic Tool revealed that the top 10 law firms by size in the UK and US “accounted for nearly a full third of the total search volume for legal brands”.
Dentons topped the table with 60,500 searches, followed by DLA Piper with 40,500 and then US firm Greenberg Traurig, Clifford Chance, Hogan Lovells and Baker McKenzie − all with 22,200.
Connor Kinnear, chief marketing officer at Passle, said there were “multiple reasons” why the larger firms were missing out on thought leadership, including “perhaps even a little of the old-fashioned view that legal advice comes at a price”.
He went on: “In today’s world, where we rarely make a purchase without researching it online first, and where clients no longer have to be in the same geographical area, it is almost unthinkable that firms wouldn’t want to take advantage of the obvious benefits that thought leadership marketing brings.
“While some will say it works for them, the rapid increase that we have seen over the last few years clearly shows the direction of travel – and those who fail to grab the opportunity will get left behind.”