Legal Technology

The ABA Gets Social

  • Print is more than just the ABA’s entry into the social networking universe. It’s a combination of the best features of the top social networking sites and substantive legal data from the ABA’s deep library of information.

The new site opened to the public in October.

“We set out to do something different,” says Fred Faulkner, the ABA’s manager of interactive services in Chicago. “We looked at a lot of the professional and social networks, and the gap we found was that there truly wasn’t a good site that was a cross between professional and personal networking.”

“We’re filling that gap by offering the best features of sites like LinkedIn and Facebook and adding a bunch of content from the ABA and other high-quality content sources.”

The biggest difference between LegallyMinded and other legal social networking sites is that LegallyMinded isn’t just for lawyers. “It’s for lawyers, paralegals, law librarians, law students and others,” says Faulkner. “If you’re in the legal market, it’s a place to access content and network with other professionals with whom you have similar interests.” Another big difference is that it isn’t just about business development. “Legally­Minded connects legal professionals,” says Faulkner, “whether it’s to get access to content, to create content or to discuss similar interests. If participants want to talk about Boston Legal reruns, they can do that.”

On the site, you can join for free and create a profile giving “your education, ex­pertise, prac­tice, pho­tos, professional interests—all so that you can connect with others and build a social network,” Faulkner says. You can identify how you’ll be contacted and add links to your Face­book, LinkedIn or other network profiles.

“LegallyMinded also has an interactive people map that puts you in the center,” Faulkner says. “All the people whose interests closely align with yours will appear near you so that you can identify them and begin building relationships.”

If you’re a student looking for a mentor, you can hover your cursor over the icons of people near yours and read their profiles to determine whether they’ve expressed an interest in mentoring. If so, you can send an in-network message to begin a discussion.

Users can also launch a blog, establish groups, contribute to group discussion boards and share files. The site offers a job board, career center and content resources. And wikis—where participants can add, remove and sometimes edit content—are also included.

“Members of the community can create wikis on topics like blogging and business devel­op­­ment best practices,” Faulkner says. “The community will be unleashed to do what it wants.”

Though the site is open to any­one with an interest in the law, some links to ABA content may be restricted to mem­bers. “If you are not a member of the ABA, that doesn’t mean that you can’t interact with the ABA and its members in some way,” says Faulkner. “But if you click on a link to content that’s protected, you’ll receive a message stating that it’s ABA-members-only content.”

LegallyMinded is billed as pro­vided by the ABA for legal pro­fes­sionals. “It’s your network,” says Faulkner. “The ABA is just giving you a framework to do it in.”

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