Five years ago, when LexBlog published its first State of the AmLaw 200* Blogosphere, the goal was simple: Shine a spotlight on firms that had selected the road less traveled and were using blogs to increase visibility online.

Oh, how things have changed since then. Consider:

Nearly four out every five of the top 200 law firms in the world have blogs or lawyers blogging;

Clients and potential clients look to blogs for information that shapes hiring decisions, according to multiple industry surveys;

As we predicted, the correlation between blogging and revenue growth is becoming stronger.

Clearly, firms with blogs are the norm, rather than the exception. Blogging is quickly becoming an expected part of any firm’s marketing arsenal. Those who do not use blogs are behind, it is that simple.

To compile these numbers, the team at LexBlog scoured the Web for data that had been generated by and about the firms listed in the AmLaw 200. In particular, we combed the Websites and each of the blogs published by the AmLaw 200 firms. We then combed the Web for traces of those blogs to help determine the reach and footprint of each firm’s blog presence.

Once compiled, we started crunching numbers. We’ve presented the results of our efforts in great detail below, but we’ve highlighted some immediate takeaways, such as:

Blogging adoption.
156, or 78 percent of AmLaw 200 firms now have blogs or lawyers blogging.
Exponential growth in firms’ blog networks.
Those 156 firms now produce 660 publications, an average of four blogs per firm. Fox Rothschild and Sheppard Mullin have the most blogs, with 39 and 26 respectively. The 660 total represents a 71 percent increase since LexBlog’s last report in November of 2010.
Employment law blogs dominate.
Publications providing insight on employment law have almost double the next popular subject, with 91 publications total.
Blogging and revenue.
Though firms without blogs rank slightly higher than firms with, the firms without blogs slid almost a full spot on average. Also, firms with blogs improved their gross revenue at a greater rate than those without.

As blogging moves to mainstream among the AmLaw 200, some interesting data points are emerging and we report on them in more detail below. However, some additional activities are swirling below the surface of our current report.

First, it’s clear that lawyers in large law firms are quick to offer insight and analysis on breaking legal and business developments through their blogs. In fact, lawyers who blog regularly often match the expediency of the mainstream media while adding a higher level of expertise.

Second, more large law firms are publishing niche blogs that tackle subjects of keen interest to their clients and prospective clients. They provide a level of detail and expertise that virtually impossible for traditional media to match.

Could this lead to a seismic shift in how the legal industry reports and analyzes industry news? Will media sources such as LXBN, LexBlog’s network of 8,000 blog authors, ultimately replace industry reporters and traditional media outlets as the place for legal news and analysis?

While it’s too early to label these developments as “trends,” it will be interesting to watch them over the next 12 months.

In closing, it’s important to reinforce the importance of social media in new business
generation for lawyers and other professional service providers.

If you ignore your digital footprint in today’s business environment, you do so at your own peril.

In its 2010 Digital Outlook Survey, professional services marketing experts Greenfield/ Belser found that when hiring a lawyer, accountant or consultant, 78 percent to 92 percent of executive-level buyers start the process online.

It seems that most members of the AmLaw 200 have received this message loud and clear, yet there is much room for them to expand their online activities in social media, including blogging, and it’s safe to say that we can expect to see that in our next AmLaw 200 report.

*Ranking of United States law firms by number of attorneys, profits per partner, and overall revenue by the American Lawyer Magazine.