Saturday, September 29, 2007

Updated Social Network Site Survey

Even with the warm weather here in Boston, the summer has ended. So I decided to look back at my survey of the summer associates. I posted the preliminary results a few weeks a go.

For those of you interested in viewing the detailed data you can download a file with the full results: Social Survey (.csv file)

I had 56 responses from the 75 summer associates.

77% had a Facebook account and most of them checked Facebook at least once a day.

Of those that checked Facebook at least once a day, the average college graduating year was 2004. For those who checked it less frequently or did not have an account, the average college graduating year was 2003.

Of those with Facebook accounts, 79% would use Facebook for business purposes.

There was a sharp drop off from Facebook to LinkedIn. Only 19% had a LinkedIn account. That does not surprise me. Facebook offers a much more dynamic way to communicate and network than LinkedIn. That is shown by their usage. Only 9% checked LinkedIn weekly, the rest answered rarely.

There were similar usage numbers for MySpace as there were for LinkedIn.

I would expect that the survey numbers were skewed downward on usage of these sites. In my request, I stated that the results would be anonymous (and they are). But, I think they may want to downplay their use of the site to appear more "professional" given the way many members of the media portray these social sites as frivolous.

To me it looks like next year's lawyers are using Facebook actively and see it as a business tool. We better figure out how to meet their expectations.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

LawLink Follow Up

I felt a little bad about calling LawLink boring. Not because I said it was boring (it is), but because I did not give any advice for what would make it less boring. Since Steven Choi stumbled across this site, I might as well continue with my thoughts.

I found LawLink to be like an elevator pitch: "Let's do LinkedIn just for lawyers." As Steve Choi pointed out, there are only a few thousand members. It is shame that he did not give them a reason to come back after they joined.

Look at the ABA's LawLink site: "Lawlink provides quick access to important legal information from the American Bar Association and other resources. Each site is selected and evaluated by a member of the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center staff. " Now that is information that I would come back for.

Look at the LawLink for New South Wales: There is information worth coming back for. (If I was in New South Wales)

Steven said that I should promote the blog in the LawLink classifieds. The classifieds look pathetic with most of them devoid of entries. I would be embarrassed to post something in there. Frankly, I found the existence of a dating section in the classifieds section to be repulsive for site that is targeted for professional relationships. Yes lawyers need love, but it seems to clash with the LawLink Mission:
• To help attorneys build professional relationships with other attorneys.
• To help attorneys leverage their existing professional relationships.
I would be interested if there were an aggregation of blawgs on the site. That would provide at least some substance.

LinkedIn provides a way for you to upload you contacts and see who in the network. It also matches other contacts in the network you may know based on college and law school attendance. LawLink does not provide a way to start that hunt for people you know.

To fair to LawLink, LinkedIn is also pretty boring. There is not much to do except see if anyone new has joined the network and answer questions.

I missed the early days of LinkedIn and Facebook, so I do not know how they got people to come back after their first look. I assume that there was some interesting information, cool feature or string of communication that caught their eye.

I think LawLink suffers from the blank wiki page syndrome. You can't just put up a blank wiki and expect people to contribute. You can't just put up an empty social site and expect people to be social (especially lawyers).

Steven says that LawLink will be rolling out new features. I am still waiting for something to catch my eye to get me to go back.

LinkedIn and Pictures

According to the The LinkedIn Blog, starting on Friday the 28th you can start adding a picture to your LinkedIn profile: A Photo is Worth a Thousand Words.
"Adding a profile photo is one of the most commonly requested features for the LinkedIn profile, primarily because many people (like me) tend to recognize their colleagues and classmates more reliably by face than by name."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Making Wikis Work - Success Factors

I have been using wikis at the firm for the past few months. Here are three case studies that I hope will shed some light on factors that help wikis work or help them to fail within the enterprise. Since we are still working on our deployment of Sharepoint 2007 and its wiki capability, I decided to host these three wikis with an external provider (

Client Team Site.

For one of my client teams, I had started a practices and procedures memo. Initially, I converted the practice and procedures memo into pages on the wiki site. Then I decided to create a wiki page for each transaction. The transaction page consisted of notes, a status chart for diligence items and a status chart for the loan documents. The idea was for the team to be aware of changes and updates to the client relationship and each transaction. I was tired of getting so many emails.

The client team site was imposed by me, as the team leader, by fiat. The wiki is how I want to distribute changes to the practices and keep up to date on the status of each transaction.

The team is coming along, but coming along slowly. Mostly because nobody else is interested in learning this new way of sharing and communicating information. This will be a success, eventually. Mainly because of my ability to impose my will on the team.

Practices and Procedures Memo.

I stumbled upon a practices and procedures memo for another client that I am supporting on the knowledge management front. The memo was a lengthy MS Word document that had lots of information and cross references back and forth throughout the memo. It thought it would be a great fit for a wiki. What sold the idea of using a wiki was a question from one of the team members: "How do I know when the procedures change or the memo is updated?" A wiki's RSS feed would do that.

There are links to key documents in our document management system (the links only work if you access the wiki from inside our firewall.) There are 32 pages in the wikis, so there is a lot of content. But the content was easy; we just pasted sections of the memo from MS Word into the wiki, adding the cross references and links to the document management system.

Edits to the wiki are few and far between. This is particularly problematic because the procedures memo was out of date when it was transformed into the wiki. This was a dark omen that I ignored. I hoped the wiki technology would remove whatever barrier existed that inhibited people from updating the procedures memo. A classic example of needing the business process and group motivation, more than the technology.

Project Team.

The third wiki was the site for our knowledge management department. Another member of the department and I thought it would be a good way to share information and updates. Too much information was being scattered about by emails.

As of today, we have 58 pages in the project team wiki site. There are several edits each day in the wiki pages. That alone indicates success.

We passed a key success milestone last week when we had our first discussion on governance of the wiki. Once you have enough content then people start focusing on how the wiki is organized and how particular pages are organized.

This site worked because two of us decided to use it as a medium to capture and share information with each other. Once we decided it worked for us, we asked the whole team to join and got the director to go along with this idea. The sales pitch was that wikis were coming into the firm as part of SharePoint 2007, so we better learn how the work and how they don't work.

One of the key factors was getting the agenda for the team's weekly meeting into the wiki and maintained in the wiki. This created better collaboration, because it was easy for team members to add items to the discussion.

Success Factors.

In looking at these three case studies, I see three critical factors.

First, there needs to be a reason to go to the wiki site. The information needs to be better organized, more functional and more findability than the existing methods of sharing the information.

Second, you need more than one person to be dedicated to using it as the communication/collaboration tool. Neither person need be top level management. The important factor is a group willing to share information. Management will come around.

The third critical factor is avoiding the empty wiki syndrome. The wiki has to have better information than any other location. An empty wiki is like an empty nightclub. If nobody else is there, you begin to think that maybe you should not be there either. There needs to be compelling reason to stay, look around and interact with other people.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Boston KM Forum At Bentley College

On Monday October 1, I am heading out Waltham for the Boston Knowledge Management Forum at Bentley College.

One of the speakers is Dave Snowden, formerly a Director of the IBM Institute for Knowledge Management, who is the Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge. He along with Kate Ehrlich of IBM Research, Kathy Curley of BU, Joe Horvath of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Eric Lesser of IBM Consulting, and Mike Zack, Associate Professor, Northeastern University, College of Business Administration will be presenting on "KM: then, now, and in the future."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Bingham and The Colbert Report

Stephen Colbert finds this new Bingham McCutchen print ad to be disturbing. This video from Colbert Report mentions Bingham ad at the 1:30 minute left mark.

Its great that the ad attracted attention, but it does not convey what Bingham does. Colbert assumed Bingham was a consulting firm.

"Let me consult with you: Should I give my baby to a grizzly bear? Yes, but first rub him with honey and salmon.""

Laws of Simplicity

I just finished reading the Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda. (If you are one of my Facebook "friends," you already know that.) The seventh law is emotion: "more emotions are better than less."

One story jumped out at me. Mr. Maeda tells the story of his daughter sending him emails with text of all sizes, colors and caps. "
Does not the phrase "I love you!" have so much more meaning when typed:"I LOVE YOU!"? Think of it typed at 36 points in pink and bright yellow and it really can go over the top."
He then contrasts this message with one of his students. She never smiled when communicating with others because she didn't "want to look unprofessional." He reflected on his attempts to project professionalism by being stern and authoritative. He did not like it. So now, when nobody is looking, he replies back to his daughter in all-caps and colorful letters: "I LOVE YOU TOO!!!"

It dawned on me that being professional and being personable should not be exclusive. One of things I like about this blog, Facebook and other social media is that it allows me to be personable.

If you are interested in the ten laws of simplicity, here they are (linking to his website.):

Thursday, September 20, 2007

LawLink - The Attorney Network

So I read this article on by Jessie Seyfer about LawLink - The Attorney Network. I was interested (mildly) in what a social network site of just lawyers would be like.

It was even more boring than I thought it would be.

I uploaded my picture. I added my bio. That was about all I could do. There is no way to find people that I already know who may be in LawLink. Facebook and LinkedIn both allow you to upload you contacts and see if any of them are in the system. I tried searching for my firm name, but I am the only one who came back.

It seems to be a similar feature set to LinkedIn, but limits its users to lawyers. So what does it offer than LinkedIn does not offer? Why should I use LawLink?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Is Facebook good for a law firm?

There have been many stories in the press about Faceblocking: firms trying to block Facebook and concerned about its impact on productivity.

Firms are now starting to embrace Facebook and its ability to develop and nurture firm culture and communities of practice. In a prior post I noted many US law firms have formed groups in Facebook.

Myles Wearring published an article on
Is Facebook good for the workplace? Mr. Wearring notes that several companies are embracing the responsible use of Facebook.

Although Facebook lumps all of your connections as "friends." I think there are three types of relationships: professional colleagues (inside and outside the enterprise), friends and family, and clients. The Facebook platform is really designed around the friends and family relationships. No surprise there. Facebook was designed and first deployed for college students.

Yes, there is a lot of junk on Facebook and lots of ways to waste time. I was so excited about the Patriots victory over the Chargers that I went into my Football Fan application in Facebook and added the offensive line of the Patriots as my favorite players. I "wasted" 5 minutes. But my network of friends can now see my excitement.

Facebook can be a platform to aggregate and display professional background and experience. I pull together my LinkedIn profile, my blog, my educational background, my professional background and lots of information about me a person onto my Facebook profile.

That helps people see me as a person. If one of my colleagues on Facebook runs into me, he knows he can ask about my recent trip to New Orleans or the Patriots win or the book I just finished reading. That is way more interesting than: "Are you busy?" or staring at that horrible news screen in the elevator.

All businesses, including law firms, are about relationships and the network of professional colleagues (inside and outside the enterprise), friends and family, and clients. Facebook is great way to develop, nurture and inform those relationships.

Facebook is great way for a lawyer to develop a personal brand. A lawyer could note her recent victories or transactions. Potential clients would be interested in your travels, personal interests and professional background. You can use Facebook as virtual resume for potential employers.

Thanks to Stephen Collins of AcidLabs for pointing out this story. He has been waging war against the Australian press for their negative coverage of Facebook.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Orleans

I just got back from a weekend in New Orleans and thought I would share my thoughts on this recovering city.

You should plan a trip to New Orleans. The food in great, there is lots to do in the city and plenty of places to have a great time. I had dinner Thursday night at the Commander's Palace in the Garden District, breakfast at Camellia's Grill, lunch at Bayona in the French Quarter and a dinner Friday night at Antoine's Restaurant in the French Quarter. The food, service and accommodations were all wonderful. All four of these places have recently re-opened.

The French Quarter, Canal Street, and other tourist areas were not as damaged as other parts of the city, are re-opened and waiting for you to come and visit.

The bad part of the story is that the city's housing stock was badly damaged across the economic spectrum.

We drove through some affluent areas that were badly damaged. There were a few signs of the damage. But the areas are now mostly rebuilt. People with money were able to line up contractors quickly and rebuild before getting their insurance money.

In the middle class areas, you could see the bathtub ring across the front of the buildings in the neighborhoods. This ring marks the level of the waterline where the floodwaters sat for weeks waiting for the levees to be fixed and the pumps turned on. The debris is gone, but few houses have been re-built. Most of the people are just gone. They fled from Katrina, settled down in a new community and have stayed there. Similarly, the commercial infrastructure has not been rebuilt in these areas because the customers are not there. The supermarkets have no desire to rebuild if there are no longer customers in the neighborhood. Schools are still closed because the population of students is gone, as are the teachers.

In the poorer areas there are still FEMA trailers and little rebuilding. There is no capital to rebuild. Unlike the middle class areas, the people did not have the resources to flee and start over in a new community.

The population of New Orleans is currently 33% to 50% smaller than it was was pre-Katrina. It seems like a big chunk of this missing population is the middle-class.

The city is alive and vibrant, just smaller than it used to be. New Orleans will come back as the small business and employers come back to the city. It will take years.

Hopefully, over those years the government and the people will not forgot how important it is to build and maintain the levees and pumps that allow New Orleans to exist. Another hurricane will come some day. That is inevitable. New Orleans needs to make sure it has the defenses to withstand the next hurricane.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Law Firm Recruiting Websites: The Bad

Robert Ambrogi has an article in Law Technology News reviewing the recruiting sites of the AmLaw 100: Recruiting Sites That Draw Thumbs Down. (Free registration required.)

I posted previously on his article on the good law firm recruiting websites. My firm did not make his good list. Unfortunately, it did make his bad list:

"Its breezy creativity could easily have put it on my list of favored sites. But after much discussion with myself, I concluded it was just too over the top for a recruiting vehicle.

The site uses a series of Flash-style videos, characterized by exaggerated text and images, to portray themes such as passion, flexibility, confidence and courage. One partner seems to turn somersaults through the air. A mike-in-hand litigator adopts a rock-star pose. A real estate partner appears to bungee jump. A litigator leans back at a precarious 45-degree angle without visible support.

Everyone appears to be defying gravity and having way too much fun. Even the firm's managing partner and hiring chair are shown shoulder-to-shoulder, smiling broadly and gesturing in poses that suggest a musical comedy duet. All this is no doubt great if you are recruiting astronauts. For recruiting attorneys, however, it strikes me as just too much."

Update: I failed to mention earlier that I happen to like the firm's recruiting site. (I had no involvement in it.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Organizing RSS Feeds

I recently switched from using Bloglines as my feedreader to using Google Reader. I liked the ability to publish shared items on Facebook. As the number of my feeds has exploded past 150, it has gotten harder to manage the feeds. I found this especially true when I was on "vacation" at my in-laws in Missouri two weeks ago. After a few days off-line, I had several hundred unread items.

Jack Vinson got me thinking about organizing feeds by priority instead of content. I really liked being able to view my feeds by subject, but also wanted to make sure I saw very important items very quickly.

I very pleased to find that Google Reader allows you to organize your feed BOTH ways. Feeds can be in multiple organizational folders.

As you can see from this screenshot of my feed list, I have given my feeds a ranking of 1, 2, 3, or 4. Each feed is placed into one of these ranking folders and one of the subject matter folders.

I used numbers because the folder list is alphabetical. My first attempt was using "high" and "low" but they got buried in the folder list.

I can focus on the "1" feeds when I am busy, dismiss the "4" feeds when I fell overwhelmed by the number of unread items and focus on a particular subject when I am in the mood.

Its great when software allows you to have it both ways.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bromberg & Sunstein LLP Wiki Case Study

Monroe Horn of Bromberg & Sunstein LLP published the article in ILTA's Peer to Peer magazine: Promoting Internal Collaboration with an Enterprise Wiki.

The money quote about their use of Confluence as their wiki platform:

It provides a single place for team members to post information; it makes it easy to create and update system documentation as systems are developed; and it gives us a single place to go for all of our internal documentation and policies.

The technology itself, however, does not create collaboration. It just makes it easier. It is still necessary to foster a culture of knowledge sharing and communication so people are constantly thinking not only about doing their work, but also about documenting it. Developing that collaborative culture requires what I call "wikEvangelists," people who post prolifically and encourage others to do so. They have contributed to our successes with Confluence by always asking one question: "Is it on the wiki?"

Thanks to James Dellow for pointing out this story: ChiefTech: Bromberg & Sunstein LLP Wiki Case Study

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Law Firm Blog Policy - Points to Consider

Kevin O'Keefe of LexBlog Blog put together a great of list of points to consider as part of a law firm blog policy: Law firm blog policy : Points to consider.

With "blawgs" the big issue to consider is the ethical limitations imposed on lawyer expression. Most states have vague policies on blogs, whether they constitute advertising and the implications of getting unsolicited information from clients and parties adverse to your clients.

Kevin is a great evangelist for lawyers blogging. I drank his Kool-Aid and created my own legal blog: Real Estate Space [].