GENERAL PRACTICE, SOLO AND SMALL FIRM DIVISION NEWS
Improving the ABA Website

By Kimberly Anderson

Ever try to find all the information and products for solos and small firm lawyers on the American Bar Association (ABA) website? You’d have to visit numerous Division and Section sites, such as those of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division (of course!), the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, the Young Lawyers Division, and many others. Even with the handy “Membership Guide for Solo Practitioners” to help you navigate all of these resources ( www.abanet.org/members/solo), this is hardly an efficient system.

That’s why the ABA leadership is working to improve the ABA website so you can access this information in two clicks or less. To help achieve this goal, all ABA entities will be asked to migrate their online content to the Microsoft Office SharePoint integrated platform, which will allow both ABA staff and members to maintain the website more effectively.
The General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division (GPSolo) has already started migrating to this platform, and we have found many benefits. Staff and members can make modifications with minimal training; it is template based so members can go to any entity’s area on the website, and the look and structure will be the same; members can register for automatic RSS feeds for new postings; it is easy to navigate back to previous information; and the overall interactivity/collaboration is far superior. A few specific member benefits include a better end-user ability to interact; the ability to add events to Outlook or set up alerts for events; and the ability to add pictures and bios to the ABA online directory. Additionally, the meetings templates are also a part of this system. This should provide a uniform registration experience for you regardless of what meeting you attend.

As you may know, GPSolo members may join up to three committees free of charge. The new website platform has specific committee pages for substantive and some administrative committees. Each chair has access to the web page and can maintain committee website content without the need for the knowledge of HTML. Committee chairs, co-chairs, and subcommittee chairs automatically have the ability to post and edit all content present on their committee home page. Information on these pages includes committee leadership and contact information, committee roster, committee meeting information, documents, and a discussion board. The GPSolo Administrative and Government Law Committee and the Legal Educators Committee have already started updating their information.

This new platform is not the only new item on the website. You may have noticed the ABA Job Board ( http://jobs.abanet.org/?ptc=jobboard_econrecoverybox_link), which is a service through the ABA Career Center, the premier electronic recruitment resource for the industry. Both employers and recruiters can access the most qualified talent pool with relevant work experience to fulfill staffing needs.

ABA recently launched ABAesq as the official ABA Twitter account. Twitter ( www.twitter.com) is a micro-blogging tool that allows individuals and organizations to share snippets (“tweets”) of information with a population of “followers.” Twitter has grown in popularity as a marketing and communications tool for organizations. Twitter will be used to communicate activities of the ABA to a population of users who may not be reached through other communication channels. The tweets will serve as an ongoing resource and communications channel from the ABA, providing tips, news, events, specials, and more. This is the first of several steps the ABA will be taking to use social media as an organization. You can view what is “tweeted” even if you do not have a Twitter account: A stream of tweets will be published on the ABA website.

To improve the ABA website, it will require everyone to work together. In the end, the website will be user friendly, relevant, and valuable to you.

Kimberly Anderson is staff director of the ABA General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division; she may be reached at 312/988-5636 or Kimberly.Anderson@americanbar.org.

Copyright 2009

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