NYSBA State Bar News nameplate

January/February 2014, Vol. 56, No. 1


New online communities making their debut during Annual Meeting Week

By Barbara Beauchamp
For most people, the winter holidays are over. But here at the State Bar, the excitement remains high as the staff puts together Annual Meeting activities. I am particularly excited this year because Annual Meeting also is the official launch of our private online professional communities.

Communities are a new benefit for members. The State Bar’s strategic plan identified networking and collaboration as two key components of membership and outlined ways to improve and enhance the opportunities for members to engage in those activities. 

The online professional communities are a communication tool, but so much more. 

Many members currently take advantage of our listserves (member-to-member email communications among a defined group). The new online communities will take that functionality and add to it. 

What’s new

Among the new features are opportunities to make connections with others in your group. You may have had the experience of serving on a State Bar committee, attending meetings via teleconference, even collaborating on a report by exchanging messages and redlined versions of documents.

You can actually have a significant impact on the association and the legal profession while never meeting your co-committee members in person.

Increasingly, the pressures of time and budgets make remote participation attractive and affordable. But the price can be a lack of connection among members. 

Communities address that concern by making the contact information you choose to share available to others in your group. They allow you to connect with others individually and send private messages, or connect to the group through discussion posts. 

Communities also facilitate sharing documents, files, links and other resources through an online resource library reserved for each group. Posting to the library is literally as simple as attaching a file to a discussion post. (There is a way to add resources without making a discussion post and it is equivalent in difficulty to writing and sending an email.)

I encourage you to use the 2014 Annual Meeting as an opportunity to get involved with our communities. 

If you are a female member, you are familiar by now with the new Women’s Community initiative, which also features an online community component. 

As a reader of this column, you know bringing new technology to the NYSBA membership is a significant aspect of my position here. So, I encourage you to take a look at the new Technology Community when it  launches at Annual Meeting.

Members of the Electronic Communication and Law Practice Management committees have volunteered to participate in the Technology Community, answer your questions and share news and information of interest to attorneys. 

It can be intimidating to be an early adopter of new technology, so if you are feeling a little shy about joining the Technology Community, allow me to suggest a topic for your first post: What are your technology goals for 2014?

I will post that question in the community and would be delighted if you would go to http://communities.nysba.org and sign in with your NYSBA username and password. Join the Technology Community and let’s have a conversation. 

Look for me near the computers at Annual Meeting. Be sure to look for members and staff sporting “I’m Connected” stickers. We will be handing those out to everyone who joins our communities through Annual Meeting. 

Watch your email for more details on prizes, meetups and other treats for communities users.