Social Networking for the Legal Profession


I just finished reading Social Networking for the Legal Profession by Penny Edwards and Lee Bryant. They were nice enough to send me a copy.

Penny and Lee used a few quotes from me, referred to some of my writings and used some of my social networking activity as examples. That poor judgment aside, the book is otherwise a great report on how legal professionals can take advantage of online networking tools.

The book contains practical examples and strategies. They explore the use of the tools externally as part of your marketing and business development efforts. They also explore the use of them internally for operations, communication, and knowledge management 2.0. They present a good road map with lots of options for an organization to chose among.

They start with the basics and run through a survey of the social networking sites most useful to lawyers: LinkedIn, Avvo, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Legal OnRamp, Martindale-Hubbell Connected, JD Supra and many others.

It is not all kumbaya. The report takes into account the risks and challenges you must overcome to make implementation a success. They spend significant time talking about the culture challenges. They also explore the security, privacy and compliance issues.

Penny and Lee point out the paradigm shift with these tools. Unlike previous generations of collaboration tools, these 2.0 tools target individual benefits rather than the benefits to the organization as a whole. They focus on what’s in it for the individual. The benefits to the larger organization are a by-product. There is less emphasis on standardization and centralization.

The focus on standardization and the collective benefits was what knowledge management got wrong. The big central databases of knowledge management were useful to the organization as a whole, but provided little benefit to the individual contributor. They did not want awards or financial compensation (not that more money wouldn’t hurt), but wanted a way to help organize their own stuff in a way that was useful to them.

Unlike past generations of software, most of the innovation is coming from the consumer space. Free tools on the web are far ahead of enterprise systems. IT departments are constantly being asked why its so easy to search on Google or publish on the web, but so much harder to do so inside the law firm. If you want to know how these tools can help you inside your organization, you need to try them outside your organization.

There is a great chapter on the benefits of networking tools used inside the organization and how to achieve great benefits.

The book is expensive. The Ark Group gave it a cover price of £245. It is a great book and worth the price. If you are interested, I was given the details of a discount offer, taking $115 off the price, making it $285 plus $10 shipping. The details are on the US publicity flyer for Social Networking for the Legal Profession (.pdf).

You can read more from Penny, Lee and others at Headshift on the Headshift blog.

I thought I would also share links to some of my material that Penny and Lee cite in the book: