Facebook in a Young Jersey
By Amy Osteryoung
Amy Osteryoung is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and a principal in the St. Augustine, Florida, firm of Johnson & Osteryoung.
With technology a top resource for lawyers, getting and staying connected—to information, colleagues, and networks—is more important than ever. The New Jersey Bar Association is on the leading edge of this philosophy, implementing not only modern tools like Westlaw and LexisNexis but also expanding its channels of communication using the Facebook social networking website. Although social networking services on the web have been around for a decade, none have bridged the gap between social, educational, and work environments like Facebook. Attorneys have rushed to take advantage of this easy access networking system.
That the Young Lawyers of the New Jersey State Bar implemented Facebook is not surprising. The social networking service was created by Mark Zuckerberg, a young professional at Harvard University. According to The Harvard Crimson, Harvard’s student newspaper, Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004, has since grown by leaps and bounds, and is now worth billions of dollars. Since its inception, Facebook has expanded from a networking site for college students, growing to include employees of corporations, to now serving anyone over the age of thirteen with a valid e-mail address. Along with expansion came useful features including the ability to join “groups.” The groups feature allows users across the network to become fans of and follow specific organizations, socio-cultural issues, or simply make connections with like-minded people.
The New Jersey Young Lawyers is not unlike other young/new lawyer organizations across the country. Its membership is made up of bright young minds who are entering the profession and working to become established. With a substantial number of its members out of law school for less than a decade and accustomed to keeping up with friends across the Facebook network, it was easy to adapt the service for young lawyers to keep track of and become acquainted with like-minded professionals via groups based on the same field of practice. Social networking has evolved.
The New Jersey State Bar and the YLD have made connecting easier by creating and organizing the Facebook group “Young Lawyers Division—New Jersey State Bar Association.” Over a hundred New Jersey YLD members follow the YLD page on Facebook. New Jersey Bar officials call this an important innovation. According to New Jersey Bar Immediate Past President Peggy Sheahan Knee, “This is another great example of the way the New Jersey State Bar Association is harnessing technology to empower our membership to help them lead more successful professional lives.”
New Jersey State Bar YLD Chair Kimberly Yonta Aronow said it best when she stated: “As young lawyers, we are constantly connected to the Internet. It is our resource for all aspects of our lives, so why not connect with our division members through Facebook. It is the best way for our members to have constant access to our events and plans. This is another fun and easy way for young lawyers to keep in touch, network with each other, and stay involved with the association.” These statements paint a picture of how Facebook can be used in ways other than just chatting with old friends, how it can be used as a tool to announce plans and events, and how it can be a way for becoming more connected to those who comprise the legal community in which we work.
Although certain aspects of practice may remain unchanged, much in the practice of law should embrace innovation and progress. The tools of tomorrow are becoming ever more useful to lawyers today. The New Jersey State Bar YLD Facebook page is a good example of how even the most seemingly mundane technological advances can help the practice of law for young and senior lawyers alike.