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Feudalism to Facebook in 18 months – meeting the challenge of new governance structures (New Zealand Law Society)



Malcolm Gunn & Clarion Wells of the New Zealand Law Society ...

Malcolm Gunn & Clarion Wells of the New Zealand Law Society

From the Squiz 2010 New Zealand User Conference

On 1 February 2009, 13 District Law Societies were disestablished by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. Overnight they were transformed into branches of the New Zealand Law Society and “One Society” was born. The challenge was, the One Society had 9 web sites, disparate branding, rogue content and inconsistent standards. A year on, my.lawsociety was launched as the online flagship that brings the branches and sections ofthe Law Society together in one place. This is the story of managing regional expectations and balancing the need for local delivery while adhering to national standards while providing new services to New Zealand's legal profession and the public via the Web.



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  • The Strategy – build it and they will come…. * Local web pages for each branch (news & events; simple edit interface) * National events calendar * Just Dessert blog * Common Interest Groups
  • So what happens when you have built a great website? * When you know your users - lawyers * When you built what they asked for - a site with national and local legal news and events; a site where legal interest groups can have a space And your great website, which you love and you're sure everybody will love, just doesn't receive the visitor numbers you expected? We were in that situation 6 months ago when we launched my.lawsociety. Where were our visitors? We had to go behind the scenes to figure out what was going on. The web analytics for our public website indicated that the majority of our visitors were lawyers. * Visitors used keywords in searches like "New Zealand Law Society", "NZLS“ and "Law Society" * Visitors predominantly viewed information *for lawyers* Clearly, lawyers knew who we were. They were visiting our public website. But they weren't visiting the lawyers-only website that we had created for them. Why not?
  • So we started talking to lawyers. We asked them to describe a typical working day. We discovered that: * Lawyers are busy - The site stats for our public website support that (around 3 pages per visit and 2 minutes average time on site) * Lawyers aren't onliney - they don't hang out online the way web folks like you and I do. Lawyers don't blog, rss, tumblr, twitter, yammer or youtube * But lawyers do Facebook
  • We are committed to the idea of "One Society“. We are committed to the idea of nurturing a legal community. And we are committed to my.lawsociety being the online space for that legal community. Quoting George Oates (who was at flickr): "Any community—online or off—must start slowly, and be nurtured. You cannot “just add community.” It simply must happen gradually. It must be cared for, and hosted; it takes time and people with great communication skills to set the tone and tend the conversation." (http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fromlittlethings/) We have four ingredients for growing an online legal community.
  • The first ingredient is flexibility. We use Matrix. We have interchangeable templates. Combine that with Matrix's support for various assets and modules and we can easily put together web pages for our community members on request.
  • One module that we use over and over is News with the comment functionality. To my great delight lawyers comment on my.lawsociety. At times they even argue with each other on our web pages! Beautiful.
  • Simplicity is another important ingredient.
  • We make it easy for visitors to find and to do stuff on my.lawsociety. We also make it easy for editors to publish content using the simple edit interface.
  • The third ingredient is point the way. Because my.lawsociety is a lawyers-only website. It sits behind a login. We’ve learnt that we need to tell people to login and read stuff. So we point them to specific pages using our other communications channels such as LawTalk our fortnightly magazine and LawPoints our weekly e-bulletin. The e-bulletin works particularly well and we always see spikes in visitor numbers when LawPoints links to something on my.lawsociety.
  • Our final ingredient for growing an online legal community is to go outside our website. my.lawsociety has good stuff to share so we have links on delicious; Photos on flickr; Page on facebook
  • Now although lawyers are on facebook, they have been a little slow to follow us. We discovered that that's because lawyers want their professional lives to be completely separate from their personal lives. It's a journey: One we’ll always be on as we continue to support and grow our online legal community.
  • Thank you for listening to the story of my.lawsociety and how we travelled from feudalism to facebook.

Feudalism to Facebook in 18 months – meeting the challenge of new governance structures (New Zealand Law Society) Feudalism to Facebook in 18 months – meeting the challenge of new governance structures (New Zealand Law Society) Presentation Transcript

  • Feudalism to Facebook In 18 months www.flickr.com/photos/8765199@N07/4630444472/
  • Building an online community
  • 11279 lawyers 56% male; 44% female www.flickr.com/photos/adulau/937614278/
  • 1500 barristers
  • 2100 corporate lawyers
  • 2895 less than 6 years experience
  • www.flickr.com/photos/layos/3295440264/ 13 districts, 3 sections & 8 websites Before 1 August 2008
  • Lawyers & Conveyancers Act 2006 www.flickr.com/photos/sifter/10666720/
  • www.flickr.com/photos/archeon/5117029050/ 1 February 2009 “ One Society”
  • Build and they will flock …or not
  • <3 ? www.flickr.com/photos/nkeide/3026736430/
  • www.flickr.com/photos/bernhardbenke/416375020/ Lawyers are busy Lawyers aren’t onliney
  • … start slowy and be nurtured You cannot “just add community” www.flickr.com/photos/seadam/2510742992/
  • www.flickr.com/photos/soft/2340756122/ Flexibility
  • “ I entirely agree …” “ This idea is, with respect, absurd .”
  • www.flickr.com/photos/whitneybee/25085486/ Simplicity
  • Point the way www.flickr.com/photos/pixeljones/24563729/
  • www.flickr.com/photos/parodyerror/2694424284// Go outside
  • Links on delicious
  • Photos on flickr
  • 24 facebook friends!
  • Malcolm Gunn & Cj Wells www.flickr.com/photos/8765199@N07/4630444472/