Probate & Property Magazine


P R O B A T E   &   P R O P E R T Y
July/August 2008
Vol. 22 No.4

 

Young Lawyers Network

Networking in the 21st Century

There are many ways to network, such as at CLE meetings, at local bar association events, and during community organization projects. But with technology so prevalent in law offices these days, it is only natural to consider networking on a blog. Generally, blogs (short for web logs) are personal journals on the Web. They cover many different topics and express many different opinions. A blog is different from a web site because it tends to be more conversational. For example, a blog usually allows a reader to write a comment responding to a blog entry. The entries are generally in reverse chronological order.

A misconception about blogs is that they are only personal journals. Blogs can range from personal journals to more mainstream media blogs, such as ABC News’s The Note, CBS News’s Politics, or CNN’s The Situation Room. There are also several well-known attorney blogs out on the net.

A blog is fairly easy to create and maintain, and many services, such as blogger.com and LiveJournal, are available to help. Generally, because bloggers expend only time, and not money, it is a cost-effective method for networking. If you do not wish to start your own blog, commenting and guest posting on someone else’s blog is another approach to networking.

If you decide to write a blog, consider several items before making your first entry. For example, what is the goal of the blog? Evaluate what you wish to get from the blog, such as marketing your services or commenting on a specific case. Estimate how much time you are going to spend on the blog. As with any networking activity, you will need to establish your reputation. One way to do this is to build an audience. As discussed earlier, encouraging commenting and having guests post on the blog is a way to increase that audience.

Also, review other blogs for useful technical tips and stylistic approaches. For example, your blog can link to other blogs to provide context for an argument or point. A link to and comments on other blogs create a conversational mode and also expand your audience.

Of course, blogging’s potential extends beyond the realm of networking. Some law firms are using any number of new technologies for collaboration, creativity, and employee retention and recruiting. If you decide to blog in your attorney capacity, be careful about dispensing legal advice or inadvertently entering into an attorney-client relationship. Another risk is advertising your services. If you intend to provide advice or offer ser-vices on the blog, it is prudent to check your state’s Rules of Professional Conduct first. The blogger must be mindful of ethics and libel implications. Further, the blogger should avoid the appearance of giving legal advice. This can be difficult because legal advice is what many potential blog visitors want. The Legal Guide for Bloggers, published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is a valuable resource.

Outside the blogging world, Facebook, a web site used primarily for social networking, can be used for professional networking as well. In fact, several large law firms have their own Facebook pages. According to a post on lawbizblog.com, more than half of Facebook’s users are college graduates and professionals. People from all over the world meet and greet on this site. LinkedIn and LawLink are other web sites where users can invite people to be in their networks and make contacts with people in their friends’ networks.

It appears that blogging and social networking are becoming more popular because of the time that can be saved. For example, a blog entry can take as little as 10 minutes to write on your own computer, while a “meet-and-greet” event may take an hour plus travel time. Online networking also enables you to speak with people on the other side of the country, not limiting you to your own geographic area.

If used in moderation and modified to fit your own personality, a blog can add additional opportunities for networking.

For more information on the RPTE YLN, please contact:

Hugh F. Drake, YLN Chair
Brown Hay & Stephens, LLP
P.O. Box 2459
Springfield, IL 62705-2459
hdrake@bhslaw.com

Stephanie M. M. Smith,
Co-Vice-Chair
Williams Mullen
P.O. Box 1320
Richmond, VA 23218-1320
smsmith@williamsmullen.com

Elizabeth Lindsay-Ochoa,
Co-Vice-Chair
AXA-Equitable
1290 Ave. of the Americas
13th Floor
New York, NY 10104
Elizabeth.Ochoa@axa-equitable.com


P R O B A T E   &   P R O P E R T Y
July/August 2008
Vol. 22 No.4