Note: This post is the second blog entry based on a Nov. 17th presentation I made at the 2012 Lex Mundi Latin America/Caribbean Regional Conference in Santiago, Chile.

After all these years, I have concluded (as some, such as Mark Maraia have done long before me) that relationships are the foundation of client development at law firms.

Research by Hellerman Baretz Communications and BTI Consulting shows that, by far, personal referrals are the top driver for outside law firm engagements. Relationships with lawyers, existing clients, referral sources and other contacts are the lifeblood of any attorney’s practice, and I have been told that 70% of law firms’ new business derives from these relationships.

The same research shows that approximately 10 to 20 percent of a law firm’s business comes via online search engines such as such as Yahoo! and Google.

I know of only one activity that directly addresses both the initiation, advancement and monetization of relationships AND the enhancement of the digital footprint: social media. That alone is reason enough for attorneys to post, Tweet and comment. But there are other benefits for attorneys who engage in social media, including personal effort efficiency.

One of the real advantages of social media as a marketing exercise is that busy attorneys can fit it into their hectic schedules. Anyone with a little bit of technology education and a will to succeed in the information age can dash off a Tweet or a LinkedIn post, use it to initiate and/or advance a relationship, and create a ripple in the digital pond.  Thanks to mobile devices, one can even handle your social media activities while waiting for a meeting or sitting at the airport terminal.

Social media was tailor-made for the hectic, on-the-go lifestyle that most attorneys (and the professionals who support them) lead.

Next, Reason #2 – Out-of-Pocket-Spending Efficiency