Honestly answer the following questions:
- What did two of your High School classmates do this weekend?
- What is the favorite band of one of your peers that you hang out with at your professional conferences?
- Can you find a link to an article that someone you follow on Twitter, but you have never actually met, wrote the last week?
Now, answer these same questions:
- What did two of your law firm Partners do this weekend?
- What is the favorite band of the Practice Group Leader you talked to last? (Or, any PGL for that matter.)
- Can you find a link to an article that ANY attorney in your firm wrote last week?
Isn’t it a bit strange that in this age of information, we know more about people we haven’t met in 25 years, if ever, than we do about the people that work down the hall from us?
Of course, most of us are gathering this type of information through our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and apparently, even Google+, these days. At the law firm, however, many of these same resources are blocked or discouraged, and no viable (AKA, “secure”) alternatives are being offered to help co-workers get to know each other beyond the breakroom discussion, or the occassional CLE luncheon.
Is it really important to know what the Associate down the hall is planning this weekend? Is it critical that you can name a band of the PGL for Bankruptcy? Will you suffer in your work if you didn’t know that Partner X wrote an article in the State Bar Association Journal last month?
If your firm doesn’t allow for social media interaction, then it would seem the answer is no. It seems that there is a lot of interaction going on in the world, but within firms, the only approved version is actually a platform called InterAction, and it has very little to do with the type of communications we are using to connect with others in the world. It does seem a shame that I know less about the people I spend 8 – 10 hours a day in the same office than I do about someone I haven’t actually met face-to-face.
I suspect as long as this type of social interaction is seen as wasteful by most law firms, I’ll continue to get updates on the status of my High School friend’s new Great Dane puppy, Max, than I’ll know about what’s going on in the life of the Partner down the hall. After all, it’s probably safer that way. Ignorance is not only bliss, it’s secure!