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Zero to 140 is the law’s fastest interview and in the spotlight this week is Richard Pettet, creater and owner of Defero Law. After working as Advertising Manager for Chambers and Partners, Richard decided to set up a social networking site for the legal profession. Defero Law is designed to help legal professionals improve their online visibility through great legally-focussed content.

He talks to us about who gets social media right, what catches his eye and the legal professional elephants in the room.


Elephant Creative: What are you up to right now?
Richard Pettet: Heavily truncating sentences.  Pondering the use of emoticons in this interview.  Appropriate?

EC:  Fancy explaining what you do, in fewer than 140 characters?
RP:  I give lawyers a free platform on which to demonstrate their expertise, promote their work, and connect with other legal professionals

EC:  What’s been your career path to this?
RP:  Working in legal marketing and sales for a major legal publisher then starting Defero Law.

EC:  You’ve never actually been a lawyer but you’ve always worked in the industry.  Do you see things differently from fee-earners?
RP:  Mostly, yes, but most legal marketers would probably say the same thing.  It’s an ongoing battle for all of us.

EC:  Business development and marketing isn’t really something lawyers concern themselves with is it?
RP:  Generally, no.  But there are many great examples of lawyers at small firms who embrace it head on with great success, like @michaelscutt


EC:  Care to explain legal business development and legal marketing in 140 characters or fewer?
RP:  Necessary.  Old-fashioned.  Resistant.  Changing (slowly).

EC:  Do you think that lawyers in the UK are burying their heads in the sand when it comes to marketing & BD?
RP:  It’s the elephant in the room for many.  They know what needs to be done but can’t accept they’re the ones to affect change.

EC:  What would you be worrying about, if you were a Managing Partner?
RP:  Costs, pressure for fixed fees, barriers to young lawyers entering the profession, online start-ups, changing regulations.

EC:  And how would you be tackling these challenges?
RP:  Any answer I give will always include the words ‘online’ and ‘internet’, but that’s my answer for everything (:  (I chose to use them)

EC:  Tell us a bit more about Defero Law and what you want to achieve with it…
RP:  A community driven site with engaging and insightful content for the legal industry and the public alike.  We all win.


EC:  ABSs… threat or opportunity?
RP:  Opportunity

EC:  How much of a threat, to UK law firms, do you think the new raft of online legal service providers are?
RP:  If they prove their quality then a massive threat.  Certain commoditised legal products are perfect for online.

EC:  To your mind, how good a job are law firms in the UK doing with marketing and business development?
RP:  Some are great at targeting their niche audience.  Others struggle to know what to spend their marketing budget on.  Research your audience!

EC:  What about branding?
RP:  Depends.  Ask a member of the public to name a law firm.  Answer? @Qual_Solicitors ?  Maybe @irwinmitchell ?  Doubt it.  You get the idea.

EC:  And social media?
RP:  Many SMEs are pretty good at it.  Top 100 firms generally not so, although some use it well for Grad recruitment


EC:  And blogging?
RP:  Mixed.  Posting a bland article as a blog does not make it a blog.  @ralli_solicitors are very good, so too @davidmorganllb

EC:  So what makes a good legal blogger?
RP:  Having an opinion relevant to a recent news story (legal or otherwise), showcasing personality, not getting bogged down in legal jargon

EC:  And what catches your eye with legal tweeting?
RP:  Anything amusing.

EC:  But can the law really be ‘sold’ via social media?
RP:  Of course! If in-house lawyers (e.g. @kilroyt ) use Twitter then why would commercial law firms not be on it?


EC:  What’s your prognosis for the small to medium sized firm in the UK thinking about trying something new?
RP:  That if they try something new then they’ll be giving themselves a chance.  Doing nothing is not an option.  A cliché but true.

EC:  Are there any law firms or lawyers who are doing exciting things in your eyes?
RP:  I loved GT Law’s video are very social and @qual_Solicitors are undeniably innovative for the profession.

EC:  What do you predict for the future of legal marketing and BD?
RP:  Digital innovation and digital madness.  It’ll be too mixed to predict, but that’s the fun isn’t it?