I have been a long time fan of social networking for lawyers. Capturing the conversation among colleagues is one of the best ways of capturing knowledge and finding expertise. Connecting with peers is the best way to stay up-to-date on the law. That was one of the primary reasons that bar associations formed. Can these online networking opportunities be as effective as your local bar association? Are they worth your time?
Here is my take:
Currently, this appears to be the biggest social networking site focused on the legal market. So they come first in this article.
Connected is in the position of being backed by large company with significant resources and lots of substantive legal content. The site’s focus has been on creating a trusted community and validating the identity of the user. This resulted in a lengthy and error prone process for joining the site. (They just revamped the process: New Registration Workflow Launches.)
There is very little substantive legal content. The lure of this platform has been the potential of harnessing the vast Lexis database of substantive legal information to the individual. So far that potential remains untapped. The downside of having a big company behind the site is the slow speed and legacy systems that hamper the development of the site.
There are not many discussions taking place in the platform. The few discussions are focused on social networking itself. They continue that trend by devoting the week of July 20 as Social Media Policy & Guidelines Week. An interesting topic, but it will be subject to the limited audience and participants in this site. The people I would look to for guidance on this topic are not users of the platform.
If you are interested in finding out more about social media policies, the discussions next week may be interesting. But there is much more information and discussion on this topic outside the platform.
Legal OnRamp is the most innovative of these sites. It has vibrant conversations with people that I consider to be thought leaders in the business of law.
Legal OnRamp started with a focus on connecting in-house counsel with each other and giving them a platform to collaborate. Then they started allowing private practice lawyers into the platform to help with the collaboration and sharing of information.
Certainly, I joined and contributed because the platform was full of in-house counsel. At the time I joined, I was a private practice real estate lawyer. I stood out as real estate lawyer when most of the other members were focused technology practices and at technology companies. That quickly changed as the membership base grew.
The site does have robust content on substantive legal topics. They require private practice lawyers to submit FAQs on legal topics or otherwise contribute to the content and discussion on the platform. Failing to contribute gets you kicked out of the platform.
I was feeding my old blog (KM Space) into the platform. Now this blog is fed into the platform. It’s interesting to see more robust conversations take place inside Legal OnRamp than on the originating blog itself.
One of the mantras of Legal OnRamp is that the practice of law is changing, so you would expect lots of discussion about how the practice of law changing and how it should change. There are. I would prefer to see more conversation about substantive legal issues. The conversations are interesting. I would just prefer some different conversations.
Legal OnRamp also recently joined forces with the Corporate Executive Board to bring new resources to law department members of the General Counsel Roundtable, a program of the Corporate Executive Board.
There is very little activity other than new users adding their profiles. This platform is sponsored by the American Bar Association so there was much hope that this site would be able to tie into the big store of information that the ABA holds. So far, that does not seem to be the case. The other thought would be to move some of the email discussion list-serv to the platform. That did not seem to happen.
That leaves the platform as a wasted opportunity by a large legal organization.
This platform claims to be the first social network for the legal community. I had not been to the site for months until the recently launched a Twitter Forum, pulling in Tweets from members. Other than this new forum, there is not much activity here. Being first does not make you the best.
324,168 listed as being in Legal Services.
Obviously LinkedIn is not limited to the legal community. But there are hundreds of thousands of lawyers and legal industry professionals using the platform to stay connected. For years, LinkedIn groups were merely badges to add to your profile. Now they are robust communities with lots of discussions and news being shared.
The groups rival the size of the legal specific platforms above. For example the Patent Law Group on LinkedIn has almost 4,000 members. The limitation is the inability to collaborate and store information in the group.