--By Eli R. Shahmoon & Hays Ellisen
When people think about online social-networking tools, they immediately mention the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Those networks are certainly useful tools for all lawyers, from BigLaw attorneys to solo practitioners. As Vault’s Law blog pointed out in early January, about 50 percent of law firms from the 2011 Vault Law 100 are on Twitter. But building a network of people who actually care about what’s on your mind everyday can be a challenging, lengthy process. There are many other useful social networks that can improve your practice, which don’t require you to collect “friends” or “followers.”
One such resource is the New York State Bar Association, which has over 20 different sections covering varied areas of law, including business, corporate counsel, trial, tax and intellectual property. The cost of joining a section is minimal (usually between $25 and $40 per year), and membership gives you access to the forum/listserv, an online social-networking tool that allows you to communicate with other lawyers. Topics on the list vary from referral requests to substantive questions on law and ethics. Each forum is a friendly community of like-minded lawyers sharing ideas and advice and can be an invaluable resource for the solo or small-firm practitioner.
Another online community, Meetup.com, offers hundreds of groups on various interests, from “New York Tech Meetup” to “New York City Beekeeping.” Unlike the strictly-online interactions of Facebook and Twitter, Meetup.com groups arrange live, in-person meetings of group members who share a common interest. For example, entertainment lawyers may consider joining the “United Filmmakers and Actors” group, matrimonial lawyers may be interested in the “Navigating Your Divorce” meetup and corporate lawyers might benefit from joining the “New York Funders and Founders Private Equity and Venture Capital Group.” And for those of you who are thinking about starting your own firm or recently went out on your own, the “Gutsy Lawyer Meetup Group NYC” is a terrific resource for sharing your experiences with dozens of other “gutsy” lawyers like you. There are so many different meetups, you are sure to find at least one that suits your interests and practice areas. Attending live Meetup.com events will keep you up-to-date on the latest trends on the topic and allow you to connect with others who have strong interests in the field. Acting as a Meetup.com presenter or sponsor is also a great way to promote your practice.
Engaging in the typical social-media forums is important for developing connections, but you also should keep an open mind and consider other means of social networking to further expand your professional network.
Shahmoon & Ellisen site
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Eli R. Shahmoon and Hays Ellisen are the co-founders of Shahmoon & Ellisen LLP, a boutique New York City law practice focusing on corporate, real estate and technology clients. Eli has a BA in Computer Science from Columbia and a JD from NYU School of Law. Eli has practiced corporate law at Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and Sidley Austin LLP in New York and was also general counsel to the Limewire peer-to-peer music-sharing service and a London-based hedge fund. Hays has a BA in Philosophy and Norwegian from the University of Minnesota and a JD from Michigan Law School. Hays has practiced corporate securities law in New York at Brown & Wood LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, McKee Nelson LLP and Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.
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