6/30/09

Review of Headshift's Penny Edwards' "Social Networking for the Legal Profession"

Although I follow a number of blogs dealing with the topics of law and technology, I would have to admit that one of the best out there is the Headshift Blog. Their byline of "smarter, simpler, social" hits a chord with me and it is one of those types of blogs where you tend to read something that allows you to say "We could do something like that here."
There are a number of highly intelligent, yet approachable people at Headshift, but by far my favorite has got to be Penny Edwards. Penny and I have been "twitter-buddies" since last year and we've shared a number of experiences of how we approach social networking within the law firm. A few months ago, Penny asked if she could interview me for her upcoming Ark Group publication "Social Networking for the Legal Profession" that she co-wrote with Lee Bryant. I was happy that she thought of including me in her research, but in reality, I was really excited about talking with her over the phone and seeing if she was really as smart as she seemed via our Twitter conversations. (She is, and more!)
FYI -- The Ark Group Report can be purchased (with a special discounted price through these Headshift blog links:
Penny has since followed up her report with a series of blog posts that explain the process that she and Lee took to "look at ways in which legal professionals are exploiting social networking for business." They looked at the internal and external forces that were creating conditions to encourage law firms to "rethink the way legal practices operate and emerge as more effective businesses." Where some firms are looking at cutting back on costs while others are seeking new ways to exploit the challenges in order to find new approaches to how they conduct business.
Penny followed up with stating the fact that when law firms and lawyers talk about 'social' what they are really saying is 'business'. Whether it be "relationship building", "individual branding", "expertise and knowledge proliferation", "developing legal expertise", or "building a guild-like community", lawyers that use social networking successfully have an understanding of what they are accomplishing.
Penny's latest edition of the "Social Networking for the Legal Profession" discusses the way it is creating new ways of working. In my opinion, social networking processes can create some of the things that Knowledge Management professions have been wanting for over a decade now. I'm worried though that the process is developing in an ad hoc way and is not being recognized by many in the KM profession.
I highly recommend that you read Penny Edwards' blog posts on "Social Networking for the Legal Profession", and if your budget can afford it, to buy the Ark Group report. Penny and her cohorts over at Headshift are thought leaders not just on social networking, but also on understanding the shifting environment that is facing all of us in the legal profession. I'm happy that they are willing to share some of that expertise via the Headshift blog.

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