Lawyers network to build their reputations, market their services, and cultivate sources for advice. In short, networking can be key to a lawyer’s success; after all, according to the American Bar Association, about 49% of lawyers are solo practitioners. However, for lawyers, most online social networks offer both risks and rewards.
Lawyers face a unique set of concerns when networking online. According to a report from the International Bar Association, 68% of lawyers surveyed said that it was not acceptable to post updates about current legal proceedings to a social network. This makes sense since information shared on a public forum can easily be misconstrued. But it is a buzzkill for lawyers who are looking to seek help from others who have gone through similar professional experiences.
Enter Foxwordy, a private social network just for lawyers. This invitation-only social network was founded by CEO Monica Zent for lawyers to collaborate, seek advice and gain referrals. With about 1,000 users so far, subscription to the network costs $9.99/month after a free trial period. Although the community is small, users have good things to say. For example, Marci Rubin, Executive Director of the California Minority Counsel Program, reportedly told PR Newswire, “Foxwordy is already solving age-old workflow issues and transforming how we collaborate with our industry colleagues.”
The idea of a private online social network for a particular professional field is interesting. While it is true that major social networks such as Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn have the ability to host private groups, they limit your ability to customize the platform to meet a specific group’s unique needs. If lawyers want to collaborate on a legal document, for example, there is the challenge of managing that process on a larger, generalized social network.
Foxwordy faces the same obstacle that any startup social network faces: the competition for the target customer’s time is stiff. Tech-savvy lawyers are most likely already active on other social networks, so Foxwordy will need to clearly demonstrate what it can bring to the table. Of course, being a private community founded by a lawyer and completely customized for the legal community is a fantastic start.
What do you think? Will this develop into a trend? Will we see the emergence of specialized social networks for teachers, doctors, and other niche professionals?