The large legal publishers and solution providers (LexisNexis, Thomson-West-FindLaw, Wolters Kluwer, ALM) have traditionally not been that social. This may be changing.

The large players have had websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages. But their presence was not social nor engaging. There was no personal involvement, the corporate brand was merely on display.

Lately I am starting to feel personal engagement via social from the large players.

John Barker (@contentbarker), VP of Strategy for Wolters Kluwer, and I met via his blogging and use of Twitter. This engagement led to dinner with John and other Wolters Kluwer folks in New York City and a couple webinars I have done for the company.

I have also had good social exchanges with other people at Wolters Kluwer via blogging (mine and theirs), Twitter, and LinkedIn. They’ve been in the company’s products and marketing groups and located around the world.

I have had recent exchanges with various folks at LexisNexis.

I had the pleasure of meeting CMO of Legal Research and Litigation Solutions, Steve Mann (@stevemann), at a cocktail party LexisNexis had at LegalTech a couple years ago. We’ve met since, but added to the face to face conversations are exchanges Steve and I have had via Twitter. Not bantering per se on Twitter, but often retweeting something we’ve shared or favoriting a Tweet or two.

While at LegalTech last week I heard good things about Chris Anderson (@FirmManager_CTA), Product Manager for LexisNexis’ Firm Manager product. I pinged him via Twitter to let him know that and he thanked me. Since then I’ve noticed he’s favorited or shared items on Twitter that I or LexBlog’s LXBN have shared or been mentioned in.

I’ve had regular blog and Twitter exchanges with Frank Strong (@Frank_Strong), a PR and communications professional with LexisNexis. Our exchanges led to our sitting down to talk last Wednesday at LegalTech.

LexisNexis has also engaged me or LexBlog’s LXBN from their corporate accounts – Business of Law Software Solutions (@Business_of_Law) and LexisNexis (@LexisNexis) corporate. This has been through retweeting or favoriting Tweets.

Lenny Izzo (@LennyIzzo), CMO of ALM, who I enjoyed meeting with at LegalTech has recently been engaging both me and LexBlog’s LXBN via Twitter. I have also engaged others at ALM via blogging and Twitter over the years.

I have not seen as much social engagement from individuals at Thomson Reuters. I am sure someone will make me out to be a liar here, my memory is not what it used to be.

What to make of the recent uptake in personal social engagement from the large legal players? It may not be perfect and people will of course begrudge them for this or that, but it is indeed an effort to build trust and relationships with their customers and the influencers of their customers.

As Clara Shih (@clarashih), CEO of Hearsay Social and Board Member at Starbucks, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review, social at the corporate level means everyone in the corporation must participate. Social cannot be left to communications, PR, and marketing professionals. The large players are acknowledging this by their actions.

I see the increased use of social here as a big plus. Those of you who have been following me know I have held no punches when it came to the large legal players. Social engagement that’s leading to face to face meetings breaks down some of the barriers and gets me to see things in other than black and white. I expect it’ll have the same effect with others.

As the Cluetrain Manifesto told us, marketing is a conversation. This engagement may be the finest form of marketing the large companies may do.

No question I have missed many of you employed by the large legal players who have engaged me via social media. Sorry about that, please don’t take it personally.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Search Engine People.