The number one way that people find a lawyer per a survey conducted by the American Bar Association (ABA) Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services should come as absolutely no surprise.

“People with personal legal matters are far more likely to turn to trusted sources instead of impersonal sources to find a lawyer…” ‘Trusted sources’ include friends, co-employees, business associates, relatives, and so on.

How do you, as a lawyer, get referrals through other people’s ‘trusted sources?’ Through relationships with others and having a strong word of mouth reputation.

Where’s does that leave blogs and other social media when it comes to how people find a lawyer? Near the top of the list.

Rather than looking at blogs and social media as something new, look at blogs and social media as accelerators of relationships and your word of mouth reputation.

Lawyers using blogs and social media effectively are getting work via ‘trusted sources.’ Why? Because they’re enhancing their reputation and building relationships in an accelerated fashion.

Funny thing about the ABA though. A person employed by the ABA called me a couple weeks ago to let me know blogs didn’t do so well in the survey. Then the ABA Journal runs a story on the survey, ‘How People Find Lawyers: Referrals Are Popular, Blogs Not So Much, Poll Finds.’

Why? Only 15% of the people surveyed said they would use ‘blogs’ to find a lawyer for a personal legal matter. Whatever that means.

The ABA misses the boat. I wouldn’t go to ‘blogs’ to find a lawyer. And I’m the CEO of a company which both consults with law firms on blogging and social media and develops social media and blog solutions.

Like everyone else I go to people I trust. Let me give you two concrete examples — examples in which blogs and social media played a role.

This morning on the ferry the CEO of a good sized web development company asked me for the name of a good lawyer in a niche area of the law. I gave him the name of a lawyer I have come to know first though her blogging and then in person. She was the real deal and someone who could help him or could refer him to someone who could.

I felt comfortable that her blog would reinforce in the CEO’s mind that she was a good lawyer. I knew by her blogging and using social media she stayed up to speed in her niche area and was well networked. Both made me, a trusted source, feel comfortable making the referral.

Also this morning, I had a legal issue our company needed counsel on. I reached out to one of our clients who blogs on the issue. I know he’s a pretty good lawyer from his blog and from personal exchanges.

Did I go to blogs to find a lawyer for our company? No, I went to a trusted source — this lawyer. His blog just played a role in his being a trusted source.

Why does the ABA read the survey the way it does with regard to blogs?

It may be a symptom of the ABA’s decision not to have their leadership use blogs and social media to build relationships with members and enhance the ABA’s reputation as an organization that is relevant to the every day lawyer. The ABA has done little, if anything, to get its leaders using blogs and social media in a strategic way to improve its bottom line.

When you don’t have a working understanding of a concept, what you say about the concept tends to be off.

As to the headline in the ABA Journal?

I counted 13 sources for where people turn to find a lawyer that scored lower than a ‘trusted source.’ Why single out blogs?

Was the headline created to draw more traffic to the ABA Journal online by baiting me and other bloggers to write about the story by singling out blogging as the one that scored lower? Perhaps the headline was created to bait the blog and social media nay sayers?

I don’t know. I guess it baited me.

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