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:


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4 Responses to Social Networking for the Legal Profession

  1. Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 9:29 am #

    Thanks for the review Doug. For me, the final chapter on horizons scanning and future of firms was a particularly interesting area to pen some thoughts. There are so many exciting changes stemming from the use of social tools and social networking in firms. As firms work to strengthen existing client relationships and build new ones, social approaches to business design will become a top priority along with the intelligent integration of social computing in the work place. I am very much looking forward to reporting more in this space on the impact of networks and social technologies on the shape of firms, service innovation and new work processes!

  2. Tamara Thompson Investigations September 2, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    Lawyers should also familiarize themselves with the advantages of culling social networking profiles for information on clients, opposing parties, jurors, witnesses and for locating people and their employment. A few years ago I developed this as a niche specialty in my private investigations, and started educating other investigators and attorneys on techniques for finding background on the open Internet and social networks. I also incorporate this into my due diligence reports. The online content supplements public records research, interviews and proprietary source materials.

    Increasingly, the legal profession is noting the value of adding social media to their factual research. It’s not a benefit only to law firm marketing!

    Tamara Thompson
    Internet Research | Genealogy Tracing | Civil Litigation

  3. William Carleton September 2, 2009 at 4:02 pm #

    Awesome write up. I love the points you make — or perhaps I should say, the way you express what you’ve gleaned from the book — about innovation coming now from the consumer space (which is what all we knowledge workers experience firsthand on our handheld consumer devices doing duty as business tools), and how knowledge management at the enterprise level has gotten it wrong in the past.

    Is it not a bit ironic that this treatise is not available online?


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