Having hosted for more than a year discussion groups on LinkedIn about law department management and on Legal OnRamp about legal department operations, I can attest that very few in-house attorneys either start topics or comment on topics. Most of the traffic comes from the host (that would be me) or from consultants or vendors. Pecuniary gain motivates contributors, not sharing knowledge. The “gated communities” end up opening access to people who contribute for gain.
Nearly everyone of the hundreds who have “joined” my groups then disappear, as far as I can tell. Maybe the topic of how best to direct an in-house legal team doesn’t actually interest them. Maybe they are shy, reluctant to expose their writing and ideas, uncomfortable with English. Certainly time presses them. Maybe lurking is all they ever intended.
I can’t speak to participation levels for substantive legal topics, but I wouldn’t be surprise if the heavy writing is done by law firm partners (and some professors). Again, the active participants have a pecuniary interest.
The end result, no matter the motives, is that social networks for lawyers have a tiny fraction of the members who contribute and a the vast bulk who lie very low in the weeds (See my post of Sept. 22, 2008: social networks such as Legal OnRamp, with 7 references.).