ILTA White Paper

Social Networking

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www.iltanet.org Social Networking 13 promoters, a dumping ground for press releases and advertising, a competition to amass followers, and a target for computer-automated Tweets." In the face of such skepticism, the best response is to build a solid business case for social media, rather than refer to the vague benefits of "getting social" or, worse, argue that social media is somehow inevitable. Yet this is easier said than done. Many legal professionals look with envy at their counterparts in other industries who have been far more aggressive about adopting new technologies. For example, the 2.0 Adoption Council is one of the leading groups of social media practitioners, with 77 members including business and IT leaders from such large institutions such as Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Proctor & Gamble . . . but not a single law firm. In one way, however, the legal industry's hesitancy could bring some benefits. Legal technology professionals can look at the successes (and failures) of the broader Enterprise 2.0 community and learn important lessons on how to build a solid business case for adopting and investing in social media. This does not mean "cutting and pasting" best practices from other industries. The legal industry has a unique set of needs and constraints, and the lessons of Enterprise 2.0 must be adapted for the legal community. LESSoN 1: thE gENiE iS out of thE BottLE In 2007, a corporate survey found that 50 percent of companies were restricting their employees' access to Facebook. In 2008, a subsequent survey revised that number to 23 percent. Many of the companies that allowed Facebook specifically cited concerns that blocking Facebook would cause employee recruiting and retention issues. Yet in January 2009, when compliance experts Doug Cornelius and Steve Matthews surveyed 231 law firms, 85 percent said they were blocking Facebook. In contrast, 71 percent of corporate counsel, and 78 percent of attorneys in private practice report belonging to a social network. Indeed, for many attorneys, social media is becoming a part of rainmaking. kailash Ambwani, the CEO of FaceTime Communications reports, "We have heard from our customers that networking for counsel and fee-earners at law firms that social media sites are essential to their business. So blocking access to social media sites won't work for partners and employees who need to communicate with clients and others." Ignoring the issue and hoping it would go away didn't work for the broader market, and it won't work for law firms. As Doug Cornelius notes, "That may have worked 10 years ago, but not today. You can just as easily access these sites from an iPhone or BlackBerry as you can from a firm computer. Blocking does not stop the bad behavior that it is trying to prevent. Blocking merely changes the access method." The consumerization of technology, which Forrester Research has dubbed "Technology Populism," has given individual employees the means to seek their own solutions if their firms do not provide them. LESSoN 2: SociaL MEdia uSagE REquiRES RuLES aNd guidELiNES The fact that blocking social media is ineffectual does not mean that the opposite approach is

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