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An inquiry into data about participation of lawyers on online social networks

“[B]ased on our research, we know 60 percent of legal professionals already use online social networks regularly,” according to an article in the ACC Docket, Vol. 27, May 2009 at 72. I was dubious so I wrote one of the co-authors, Michael Walsh, the CEO of US Legal Markets And Global Legal Solutions at LexisNexis. The next day I received the 2008 research report that underlies the quote. Earlier, it turns out, I had reported on the press release from the study (See my post of Oct. 12, 2008: LeaderNetworks poll of 449 corporate counsel.), but this time I pored over the actual data. The study report does not say how the in-house counsel who responded were identified and contacted.

One question asked was “Are you a member of an online social network such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook or MySpace?” Of the corporate counsel, 48 percent answered “Yes.” Of that group, two-thirds of them who were 25-35 years old answered Yes, with a drop off in later age groups.

Given the ubiquitous presence of FaceBook, MySpace and Friendster and other online watering holes among college students (and perhaps law school students), that nearly half of the in-house lawyers who responded belong to one sounds completely believable. It’s not 60 percent, but no matter.

To go further and claim that those former students, now practicing law in a company, use the networks “regularly” is a much further stretch. Likewise, whether they use those networks in connection with their work is unknown from this data.