After twenty-four hours of traveling from Jerusalem to Boston, I am now on the floor at the Association of Corporate Counsel Annual Meeting in Boston. The Haynes Convention Center is packed with flat screens and corporate lawyers, and I am standing in the middle of it at the LexisNexis booth with leather couches, a glass coffee table, and pimped out Connected videos playing in 4-minute loops. Another vendor just came over to tell me she was jealous because we got the “good carpet,” and I must say, it is plush.
As the community manager for Connected, my goal at this conference is to help corporate counsel become better acquainted with online professional networking, in particular with our community. As this is generally a new tool to the legal profession, it reminds me a bit of the mantra from Star Trek (I watched the new movie on the plane ride here and highly recommend it). As a profession we are “boldly going where no lawyer has gone before,” integrating these networks into our daily work-flow. Us lawyers tend to be risk adverse and for a good reason: we are the trusted advocates sworn to secrecy by ethics rules; how can we talk about what we do in these “open networks?”
The truth is there are plenty of ways for us to benefit from the available technology as we migrate from isolated problem-solving in tasks such as research, one-to-one networking, and discussions to collective solution building. In using a community platform to cast our nets broadly we can form new relationships and find new sources of information that did not previously exist.
A real-life example: a corporate counsel at a small 500-person technology company came to the Connected booth.
“Are you a member of Connected,” I asked him.
“No,” he said.
“Tell me about the kinds of things you do,” I said.
“Well,” he said, “we are engaged in all kinds of work: IP, employee disputes, had an interesting deal recently that happened in Australia.”
“Tell me about that,” I said. He went on to explain all kinds of jurisdictional issues he faced, finding outside counsel on a foreign continent, and the difficulties he faced given the local nature of his company and the size of his legal department.
“Would it have been helpful to you if you had connections to a corporate lawyer in Australia who could have given you feedback?” I asked.
“Sure,” he said.
Thinking of a certain Connected member prominent in the corporate scene in Australia I went on, “what if you could have connected with a corporate counsel expert in the Outback? What if you could have posted your jurisdictional questions on a confidential corporate counsel message board, where other corporate counsel from Australia could have commented? Would this have been helpful to you?”
He thought about it and said, “sounds like it would.”
“Let’s get you signed up for Connected,” I said. And that’s what it’s really all about: most of us don’t even realize how we can apply this technology to our daily work while adhering to the ethical rules of our profession. There are many ways to do this, and just as the legal profession had to learn about email disclaimers when incorporating that technology into our daily flow, we will learn how to use networks like Connected.
If you are at the ACC Boston, stop by our booth and I’ll be happy to sign you up. Already a member? That’s great – let’s take a look at your profile and see if there is anything I can show you or a potential connection you can add. Oh, and while you are here – enjoy the plush carpet, have a seat on the couch, a cup of coffee, and tell me about your work. I’m interested to see how we can get you connected.