Social Networking in the Legal Industry – ILTA Conference Coverage

Here is a continuation of my ILTA Conference coverage.  ILTA information followed by my brief notes.  Please forgive the typos (I’m typing away quickly just to get the thoughts down on “paper.

From ILTA:

Social Networking in the Legal Industry
Description: Law firms, like virtually every other business today, are discovering the benefits of social networking collaboration. Learn about the use of collaborative tools such as wikis, blogs and discussion forums, and networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Date/Time:     Monday 8/22/2011 at 1:00 p.m.
Location:     Canal C
Speaker(s):

  • David Hobbie – Goodwin Procter LLP
  • Beau Mersereau – Fish & Richardson P.C.
  • Katrina Dittmer – Baker & Daniels

My Notes:

This was a standing room only crowd.  They actually had to bring in more chairs and there were still people sitting on the floor.  This session covers non-public social networking and collaboration within the law firm.  Not external social media.

I won’t be writing down every thing discussed – especially the basics (what is social networking and what are some examples, etc.  I concentrate on the good stuff – what these speakers are doing at their firms.

Most of the people in the room have engaged in some sort of social networking or contributed to some collaboration platform.

KD – migrating from SharePoint 2003 and switching to SP 2010.  They never did any type of social networking, so this is new for them.  The firm has been very supportive of the initiative.   C3 – Connect Collaborate and Cultivate – their in-house educational program, emphasis on cross-selling.  The goal is to connect with colleagues in an authentic way so that clients know that you are not just spouting off the CV of your colleague who you really don’t know.  All employees are able to update their own profile page with their work responsibilities, expertise,  organizations, and other information about themselves.  This is not limited to just HR related information.  This info also is fed to the people search.  They promote the use of the profile function by using a virtual “scavenger hunt” with prizes for the most correct answers.  Employees can add information that is not professional, as well (one partner included that she had once accidentally knocked down Mick Jagger).  This is a tag builder, so if someone is typing a tag that is already in the DB, you can select it.

They also use micro-blogging within SP.  The updates are written to a log file.  Activity Feeds – others can re-post original content.  They can add people to follow.  Activities can be displayed by groups so there is a theme to the feeds.

Internal blogs – they are just getting started on this.  They need more leaders to contribute.  They need to find some champions to get them to take off.  B&D is negotiating a merger, which might more than double the size of the firm, and make the social networking even more important.  There is no social media policy for the internal tools, other than to say that it is to be used for business purposes.

BM – They borrow the wall concept from Facebook.  Using MySites from SharePoint.   They use the activity feeds out of the box from SharePoint.  They added a Training activity feed from University Site to try to get people aware and interested in the training opportunities.  MySite is integrated with Outlook 2010 and suggests information to add to the About Me section.  They have had to tell people to lock down their Facebook accounts because Outlook 2010 reaches into Facebook and pulls the public Facebook feed and displays in Outlook.  It also integrates from LinkedIn.  This would work for your clients, too, so they might be able to see your firm’s employees feeds.  It might be a good idea to have your employees lock down those feeds.  Tags within SP2010 – you can start discussions around tags and you can get alerts when people comment about the tag.  Marketing is important.  They will likely force the intranet to open when they login.  You can “like” pages and activities (Facebook-like).  They use OneNote 2010 as a wiki and it is really popular with their attorneys.  They are using it a lot for case notebooks.  OneNote is hugely popular with everyone at the firm.  They also have a “traditional” wiki, called Fishipedia, which uses the same software as Wikipedia.  The key to all of this – and the hope – is people search (but much more than just the basics).

DH – addressing wikis at Goodwin Procter.  The alerts in wikis turn them from a repository into a way for people to keep up with what others are doing.  The social factor is that changes are attributed to users.  Wikis can fail if there is not champion, if there is no integration in the workflow and causes extra work.  Goodwin has over 100 wikis in many different administrative and practice groups.  They are also using externally facing wikis, which is helping to increase usage.  Goodwin is using PBWorks wikis – useful, especially, for cases in which there is co-counsel sharing.  These focus a lot on deposition information.  The usage is increasing, but the effort to maintain the wikis is also increasing.  Externally hosted wikis are easy to search and access, but integration with other systems is a challenge.  Keys to success: find your champions, support the people who support it, identify best use cases, share experiences.

The Future of Social Networking:

In the corporate world: connecting people, empower employees, make work transparent.

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