However, as powerful as social networking may be, lawyers shouldn't neglect the listserv as a valuable tool for marketing. For a variety of reasons, some lawyers have not made the transition to social networking, nor do they have any intention of doing so. Yet, these lawyers may be a source of referrals, or may need to collaborate with another lawyer or outsource a project. By ignoring listservs, you miss out on a potential source of work.
In many ways, listservs are a precursor to social networking tools. Listservs are essentially a mailing list dedicated to a particular topic where users can post messages and receive responses via email. Listservs enable users to ask each other questions, exchange information, and engage in conversations on a variety of topics. Over time, many listservs may morph from pure business to include personal discussion as well, thus creating the same sense of community as social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.
Solosez is perhaps one of the best known listservs for solo and small firm lawyers. Now a decade old, Solosez boasts more than 3,000 members, making it -- as some refer to it -- the nation's largest virtual law firm. These days, most state bar sections have listservs, as do specialty bar associations dedicated to practice area specialties like litigation, estate planning, or bankruptcy.
Some lawyers prefer the convenience of a listserv, since messages flow directly into their inbox instead of requiring them to log on to a site. On the other hand, some lawyers avoid listservs, particularly high volume ones like Solosez, because the thought of 150 daily emails flooding their inbox is overwhelming -- though the email problem is easily cured if you manage your participation properly.
Below are a few tips for maximizing the marketing value of a listserv in your practice.
1. Choose your lists wisely
Just because listservs are a useful marketing tool doesn't mean that you need to go overboard. Limit yourself to two or three lists, with at least one of them being a low volume list. If you spread yourself too thin, you'll either find yourself reading emails all day long or you won't have time to participate meaningfully in any of the lists.