Now 10 years old, it’s remarkable how influential LinkedIn has become.
I joined LinkedIn in 2005.
There wasn’t many people on it back then, and it wasn’t until 2006-7 that it started to pick up.
Since then, I have probably used LinkedIn for something or other every day.
I use the site in much the same way as I imagine some people use Facebook – as part of my daily routine.
The growth of LinkedIn coincided with me setting up a consultancy business, so it’s been invaluable in helping me to maintain and develop new business contacts.
LinkedIn was designed for people like me – who work with lots of people around the world and want to keep in touch with them.
Anyway, enough of the LinkedIn love letter.
If you’re in any way skeptical or unconvinced, there’s literally millions of social media consultants out there who can teach you how to use the site effectively.
My question is this: is LinkedIn a legal directory?
Like most U.S lawyers of the baby boom generation, Mr O’Keefe’s reference point is Martindale Hubbell.
His view – and many others – is that if you want information on a lawyer, you now go to LinkedIn, and not Martindale.
So LinkedIn is now by definition a legal directory – the same default setting that Martindale historically occupied.
This is certainly true.
But Mr O’Keefe is also right to say that LinkedIn hasn’t made legal directories irrelevant.
(As an aside, I wouldn’t write off Martindale. Among some quarters, it’s been fashionable to knock them for years, but any company that’s been in business since 1868 must have something about it.)
Despite my fondness for Linked-In, there are many things it can’t do (at least yet).
LinkedIn is fine if you want information about someone whose name you already know.
But if I want to find a private equity lawyer in Sweden or a products liability litigator in Louisville, Kentucky, and don’t have any names to go on, LinkedIn can’t point me to that lawyer, even using advanced/premium features.
It may do in the future, but at the moment, I can think of at least 10 good legal directories that provide that information.
And once I get to those sites, they tell me something about that lawyer – some of that information might also be on LinkedIn, some of it won’t be.
In many ways, LinkedIn is too big to be a legal directory.
There are 3.5 million lawyers in the world, and LinkedIn already has more than 200 million subscribers.
If I am looking for information on a lawyer, am I interested in the other 197 million profiles?
That’s not to say that its size makes the LinkedIn content any less good.
But its sheer size (two new accounts are added every second) and myriad features makes LinkedIn somewhat overwhelming and therefore hard to capture the nuances of the legal profession.
That in turn opens up opportunities for smaller legal publishers and directories to cater for the specialist nature of the profession.
I love Linked-In, but for now it’s a companion to legal directories – not a replacement for them.