Professional networking a “waste of time” for lawyers?

by 04g7F1nl02 on September 23, 2008 · 1 comment

in social media for lawyers,Web 2.0

Two legal marketing conferences descended upon New York City this week.  The first was the CMO Forum at the Westin in New York.  In particular, on September 16 I attended the session, Technology that your Clients Want you to Have, presented by Monica Bay, Editor of Law Technology News, Incisive Media, Suzanne Hawkins, Chief of Practice Excellence, Heller Ehrman LLP, Michael Kraft , General Counsel, Kraft & Kennedy Inc.

I was struck by a comment Ms. Hawkins made, cautioning that social networking sites, like LinkedIn or Martindale-Hubbell Connected were not where lawyers should be spending their time. She felt clients would question the quality of a lawyer who had time to spend on networking sites (connecting to other lawyers, contributing to Wikis, discussion forums and other popular Web 2.0 media). Monica was right back at her with her counterpoint extolling the virtues and inevitability of professional networking for lawyers.  You go Monica – you have it right!

Whenever a new technology sweeps the legal industry, naysayers always fall back on the unseemliness of lawyers participating. Remember email? Websites? Heck, I’m old enough to remember my first summer associate job in 1988 at a firm in Washington DC where lawyers were not even allowed to have PCs on their desks. We had to write our briefs on legal pads, hand them over to the secretarial pool and wait for them to be typed out.

What a difference a day makes. On September 17 I was a panelist at a luncheon event hosted by the New York Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, called “Web 3.0 Attorney Social Networking: The Next “Next” in Online Business Development and Client Service.”  The contrast could not have been more stark.  Here was a room filled, to standing-room-only capacity, with legal marketers eager to embrace and make sense out of professional networking. Doug Cornelius, one of my co-panelists and KM Space blogger – is a practicing lawyer at Goodwin Procter who definitely gets Web 2.0.  I would love to hear Doug’s response to those who say lawyers shouldn’t be wasting their time engaging in online professional networks!

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Anonymous wrote onSeptember 19, 2008 at 2:45 pm

Online networking is just another form of networking. Why bother taking clients to dinner, writing client alerts or going to conferences. It is just another way to connect with clients, potential clients and colleagues. But online it allows you to transcend the limits of the time and space. You can communicate with lots of people at the same time across vast differences.

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