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Hickey: Sweet Tweet

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IBA-Hickey-ChristineTechnology and social media, it’s all the buzz in Bar circles. In fact, having just returned from the Conference of Metropolitan Bar Associations, I can report that connecting members better and more efficiently was one of the top priorities for associations across the country. During the sessions, however, it quickly became apparent that not everyone is comfortable with social media and some lawyers have never visited Facebook or understood what a “tweet” is. (Thankfully, Facebook addicts were not at our conference and we were not any of the reported thousands who were depressed by the recent crash of the social network giant.)

Social media to some means lunch at the Barnes & Noble café with friends. In reality, it captures the wave of instant access that has taken hold of society. From smart phones, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, it’s enough to make your head spin. On the plane back from the conference, I read about “share rooms” on virtual platforms between lawyers and clients. Believe it or not, there is a Facebook page about Twitter. The data released on social media is astounding, and it solidifies the need to become acquainted with these tools that are making virtual relationships a reality.

According to a recently-released ABA survey on technology, remote access to law offices jumped 10% from 2009 to 2010, for an estimated 73% of respondents using remote access software. Lawyers are making use of virtual offices and 43% of survey respondents maintain some form of a social network presence. Attorneys also attributed new business to connections made through social networking.

Are you one of the technologically savvy who participates in real-time micro-blogging or are you one of those who is still clinging to pink message pads and dictaphones? Although I am anything but an expert on social media, I thought it fitting to briefly explore some of the more popular tools for staying connected.

Twitter: Twitter is a website which allows busy people to stay connected through short messages called “tweets.” Tweets are text-based posts limited to 140 characters described as “short bursts of inconsequential information.” (There is a list on Techcrunch for 15 alternative things to do when Twitter is down; going outside made it to the bottom of that list.)

You Tube: A video-sharing website, You Tube is no longer just for music or pet-trick videos. There are over 600 bar association videos posted to this site, and over 120,000 that involve lawyers in some way. Videos span everything from how to become a lawyer to the infamous videotape of how not to conduct a deposition in Texas.

Facebook: Is a social media website that allows users to add friends, create profiles, join networks, and communicate either through private, public or chat features. Facebook is the most used social network worldwide and it is estimated that one of every 14 people is an active user.

LinkedIn: Is dubbed as the network connecting professionals. By establishing a profile and “linking” with friends and colleagues, you can stay connected to the estimated 75 million other professionals on this site.

A Google search will quickly introduce you to these forms of social media. The Bar is also providing important information on technology in its full-day Surviving & Thriving Program on Friday, October 8, 2010. Sessions geared toward solo/small-firm practice include effective practice management through the use of technology, protecting digital information, e-filing tips for Marion County cases and essential technology trends for building and streamlining your practice (Register online at www.indybar.org).

The IndyBar strives to stay relevant and connected to its members and we are excited to release our new website in the coming weeks. As we unveil the fabulously new-and-improved, more user-friendly site, we will continue to explore other ways in which we can keep you connected to the legal community. Not to worry, however, we still recognize the importance of face-to-face gatherings, and we will continue to provide invaluable networking opportunities to our members. After all, a real lunch is far better than any virtual chicken or sweet tweet you could ever get online.•

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