Online Social Networking for Lawyers [Part 1]

1. Background--what's out there now.

2. What lawyers--and women lawyers particularly--need from networks, and what limitations they have in building them (e.g. limited time!)

3. ... ?


Common Craft has a quick, video introduction to social networking, if you aren't sure what it is (for example, if you don't know much about Facebook and MySpace).


Ms. JD National Network (practitioners and students)

Ms. JD National Organization of Women Law Students (students)

The universe of this stuff doesn't always get talked about together, but time and brain space are finite, so we only read/write/interact so much. Facebook and MySpace are usually mentioned in the same breath, of course, but far less often do I hear about LiveJournal in such a conversation.

Disclosure: I'm turning 30 this year, so I'm just barely past the cutoff to be a Millennial. A lot of what I say will be superfluous for tech-savvy students, but I'm aiming to reach you and your senior colleague, so I hope you'll just skip the basics and keep reading.



Linked In

LiveJournal friends & communities (cf. Blogger and BlogSpot, which have merged)

Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog, who writes "Real Lawyers Have Blogs," returns to this topic regularly.

Social networking sites: Will they work for lawyers and other professionals?

Ultimately, Kevin concluded that blogging beats social networking sites, because the relationships he develops are more substantial. He gets to know his commenters (and they him, because his blog is his voice). Whereas you can collect 7 zillion Facebook friends, but how many of them are actually going to know you well enough to hire you for a job? Or recommend you to a potential client? My own experience is similar. I have garnered speaking opportunities and reconnected with long-lost acquaintances (who ended up in legal practice, as I now know) by blogging. That's why I use my real name--though it's a risky strategy, I'll admit. But the opportunities I've had--a chance to speaking to career services officers from about half of all the accredited law schools in the country, for instance--to me, outweigh the risks. When I want to say something more controversial, I blog under a more anonymous pseudonym. That's not often, though; but it's a choice each of us has to make.

For those who are comfortable with social networking, it can be an asset to your legal career. Kevin suggests a combination approach, using MySpace to build your law blog audience. (Also see his post, Is MySpace a good place for lawyers to network?)

There are two different groups you might be trying to reach with your blog or profile: colleagues and potential clients.

MySpace not for law firms and professional service businesses

MySpace helps attorneys get clients

I would also recommend group blogging.


So far, law-specific social networking efforts do not seem to have caught on. (Also see Lawyer MySpace site? about LawLink.) LawLink and Already Bored, PulseWire (about which I recently posted), law firm-generated social networks--and yes, the Ms. JD National Network--are having trouble picking up large numbers of participants. The other kind of effort is a blogging community--either a group blog, or an interface that facilitates interactions among blogs & bloggers (like LiveJournal), or perhaps BlogHer, and Ms. JD.


vs. blogging /relationships with commenters/ following convos via Technorati


What Is LawLink?
• LawLink is the first online network exclusively for licensed attorneys.
• LawLink was founded in 2006 by attorneys for attorneys.
• LawLink is 100% free for all attorney members.

The LawLink Mission
• To help attorneys build professional relationships with other attorneys.
• To help attorneys leverage their existing professional relationships.

How to Join LawLink
• Submit an application in 2 minutes.
• Your application is reviewed to ensure you are a licensed attorney.
• Once approved, you receive an email with a link to your new Account.

Join LawLink Now

Build a Network of Trusted Colleagues
The only way to take advantage of LawLink is to build a network of colleagues.
• Invite your trusted colleagues to join your network.
• Your colleagues will invite their colleagues and your network grows exponentially.
• Your network consists of 3 degrees of relationships:
Your Colleagues.
Your Colleagues’ Colleagues.
Colleagues of Your Colleagues’ Colleagues.

You can also meet and invite existing LawLink members to join your network.


Obviously, this is something I care about, as do the many women I've worked with in my time at Ms. JD. We're still experimenting, trying to figure out the building blocks for a new girls' network. Maybe that's what we should call it--I don't want a carbon copy of the old boys' network, more of the same. As is the buzzword of our political season, it's time for change. We need a New Girls' Network. (Although maybe that sounds too much like the name for a 1-900 service? Sigh.)


Where's my old girls' network?


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