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LinkedIn Maps illustrate how to delve into a law department’s network of law firms

This is a far out idea, so you level-headed types can pass on by.

I unleashed the LinkedIn Labs app for maps on my own network of about 400 people. A nebula blazing with eight colors came back that showed, I think, each contact in my network and their connections to my other contacts. The size of their node indicates how many cross-over contacts I have as in where my contacts overlap. My node sits right in the middle. The map is quite beautiful although I am at a loss to understand why the software grouped people the way it did.

Now, here’s the futuristic part. If a law department tracked when its lawyers called upon any of its law firms, software such as this would vividly depict the law firms that serve the department broadly, the firms that assist only a single lawyer, and everything in between. Over a multi-year period, with color codes to match practice areas, the map of retentions might be insightful. If the thickness of the line corresponded to fees paid, or if the volume of each firm’s node did that – like cities on maps are scaled to their population, even more information would be displayed visually and graphically.