Lawyer Connection Reaches 200 Members

October 16, 2009

Today was a big day for Lawyer Connection. Today, it’s membership surpassed 200 members.

For many, that may not seem like a big deal, but for me, it triggers a deal I made with myself when I created the network back in May. I created it as an effort to help others. Having been laid off and suffered through somewhat promising job leads that fizzled, and then dry up completely, I felt starting the network was a worthwhile contribution to the moral of lawyers and legal professionals in particular, and to the population at large. If nothing else, it at least provided a central place to connect, however that connection happened.

I didn’t make a plan. I was still (an am still) trying to plot out my consulting company, but found myself drawn to the philanthropic idea of Lawyer Connection. Helping people, even just by setting up the network, was more rewarding than I anticipated, so I made myself a deal. If the network were to surpass 200 members, and continue to grow, then it would be time to actually sit down and formulate a plan, find ways to make it more useful than just a gathering place.

So, today, Lawyer Connection surpassed 200 members. 201 last time I checked, and the membership has remained active. The key, now, is to provide more useful things, like meet ups in cities, partnerships, maybe CLE-type offerings, and other ideas people toss out. I basically need a plan as the “make it up as I go” plan is quickly becoming inefficient.

A number of people have told me the philanthropic angle, while laudable, is absolutely stupid. I won’t make any money from it, they say, so what’s the point? To be perfectly honest, money wasn’t a factor at all in creating the network, but they do make a good point. There are operating costs that are currently minimal, but costs none-the-less.

And this is where I run into trouble. I don’t want to charge dues or some kind of membership fee. That completely goes against the whole concept of the network. Formalizing it as a non-profit seems to be a lot of work and a lot of expense with very little payoff. So perhaps I’ll just keep it as it is…

Truth be told, money gets in the way everything at one time or another, but things work out one way or another. For me, right now, the pay off is knowing that I’ve been of some help. And now it’s time to be more helpful. Time to step out of the background and take action. And yes, you can argue the ABA Journal article already removed me from the background. 😉

If you have any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, etc. about Lawyer Connection, its direction, funding…just about anything, I’d love to hear them. I doubt it’s a secret now that I’m a fan of open ideas, collaboration and general sharing of information.

So, what say you?

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Lawyer Connection and the Total PMA Community

September 30, 2009

Last week, the Total Practice Management Association (TotalPMA) launched its new website, and with it the TotalPMA Community. Having joined early, just before the “Get-A-Life” Conference, I was quite pleased with the redesign, and with the community.

The membership is quickly approaching 900 (at the time of this writing), which quite a few people have pointed out to me is considerably more than the membership of Lawyer Connection in days, instead of months. Isn’t that exactly what I don’t need? Another competitor to Lawyer Connection? And how do I plan to compete?

My answer is: no.

I don’t see the TotalPMA Community as competition; I see it as being complimentary to Lawyer Connection. The two serve entirely different needs. TotalPMA is affiliated with Total Attorneys, a company dedicated to helping solo and small firm lawyers handle the business side of law, the stuff law schools don’t teach, so that lawyers can “get a life” or be in a better position to find that often elusive work/life balance. The TotalPMA Community builds on that goal, providing a space where solo and small firms can share ideas, experiences, etc. on work/life balance.

Lawyer Connection, on the other hand, is about helping out-of-work/laid off lawyers network as they look for a new job, or take the plunge and hang out their own shingle. It’s lawyers helping lawyers through the economic downturn, and beyond. The membership is a good mix of seasoned veterans and newly minted lawyers, along with people in between and legal consultants. There is some overlap in membership between Lawyer Connection and TotalPMA, which is perfectly OK.

So, from my perspective, they serve complimentary purposes, and work better in collaboration than in competition. Lawyer Connection is a good spot to find and connect as lawyers get started in one way or another, and TotalPMA is a good spot to find and connect with lawyers who have figured out, or are figuring out, how to strike a work/life balance.

If this recession has taught us anything, it has taught us that work and money aren’t all there is to life.