Ron Friedmann reported this week on an article in Business Week (10/1/07) titled, The Water Cooler is now on the Web. After describing the gist of the article, Ron offers up a skeptical view of whether or not BigLaw lawyers would take the time to network via the social (I like to think of them as professional) networks on the web. He ends by asking, “Am I missing something?”
Before I had a chance to comment, Andrew Tricket (Knowledge and the Cardinal blog) offered the same thoughts I was about to share. Yes, Ron, you may be missing something. I doubt that the lawyers who are 30 to 40 years of age and up will replace the literal water cooler for the virtual one. I do, however, think that the 20 somethings that are now entering the firms, will use professional networking to connect with clients and other lawyers. I also hold out hope that the same young lawyers will adopt knowledge management in ways that other generations haven’t.
I have my own skepticism about KM and other topics but I can’t help feeling positive about the future of KM in the hands of Generation Y. There is one thing that could prevent them – the lack of understanding from BigLaw regarding the online culture followed by their unwillingness to respect it and to encourage the incoming lawyers to spend time at the virtual water cooler as they share and develop their knowledge.
See the posting on this blog regarding Enterprise 2.0 for more on this topic.