A Milestone for the State Bar's Social Network

In May, Bill Medaille of Austin became the 10,000th Texas lawyer to register for Texas Bar Circle, our social and professional network for State Bar of Texas members. Since then, 800 more lawyers have joined the ranks.

We’re recognizing user 10,000 because he met a goal of the 2008-2009 State Bar Web Services Committee, which helped launch the community in 2007 as the first-ever social network by a bar association. Recently, the California, Oklahoma, Missouri, Minnesota, and Tennessee state bars, and others, launched or announced their own communities.

So how is Texas Bar Circle doing? The trend line of registrations for the first half of 2009 matches lawyer adoption of LinkedIn, which Kevin O’Keefe of LexBlog called an “avalanche” and Stem Legal’s Steve Matthews estimated at 840,000 in June 2009, up from 406,000 in December 2008. Of course our numbers won’t approach those, but it seems the legal industry is catching on to the value of social networking.

Texas Bar Circle users have created more than 250 groups on topics ranging from business development (Solo and Small Firm Practice, Rainmaking) to regions (Houston Attorneys, Austin Attorneys) to hobbies (Biker Barristers,  Musical Lawyers) to eclectic (God Forsaken Places to Practice; Killers, Thieves, and Lawyers). They’re also making direct connections and finding opportunities on a platform which we hope, as an exclusive community of lawyers, has a unique value among tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, which lawyers should also embrace.

If you’re a Texas lawyer and not yet a Circle member, check it out at www.texasbarcircle.com. You won’t find the bells and whistles of a Facebook or LinkedIn, but you will find a usable tool for building relationships – which is what social networking is all about.

 

 

Austin lawyer an elite Yelper

Michelle Cheng is one of Austin's most prolific Yelpers.

Yelp.com describes its free service as "real reviews by real people." Michelle has written 501 reviews of restaurants and other businesses, leading her cohorts on Yelp to call her "legendary" and earning her an elusive "Yelp Elite" status for three years running.

"Yelp.com gives me an easy, no-pressure outlet to do some writing on one of my favorite topics – food," says Cheng. "I’ve discovered many great restaurants and other businesses through Yelp, and have met lots of terrific people, too (there are frequent social gatherings for Yelpers)."

There's no telling where she finds the time, considering she's a busy plaintiff's lawyer (recently promoted to name partner in Whitehurst, Harkness, Brees, Cheng & Imhoff, PC) and serves on the State Bar Board of Directors and Texas Bar Journal Board of Editors, among other community activities.

And it's not all fun and games. "I’ve even had some potential clients who discovered me through my Yelp activity," Cheng related.