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Potential of social network software for law departments and communities of practice

“In mid-2003 one in ten Internet users had registered at a social network, and one in five had visited such a network.” This quote comes from John Battelle, The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture (Penguin Group 2005) at 308, FN 6. Over the next five years or so, social network software will set in train a number of far-reaching effects for law departments.

Social network sites, such as LinkedIn, will allow specialists within law departments to keep in close contact with others who practice in their legal field. They will readily ask questions of each other, find and contribute resources, and organize discussions on arcane but useful topics.

It is an entrepreneurial opportunity awaiting someone to establish a legal social network site (Lex SocNet, for sure) that combines all these tools of knowledge exchange. Law firms with strong practice groups will fund them. As social network software becomes easier to use and even more powerful, and mostly as more and more people find it as natural to use as search engines, organizations that cater to in-house counsel, such as ACC, will be hard-pressed to justify their membership fees.