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Social Media and Substantive Law Practice

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Last night, I glimpsed the future of work at my kitchen table.

It was 10 pm, and I’d just returned from the grocery store when I happened upon my daughter, math book and worksheet spread on the table, laptop  by her side open to a Facebook page.  Naturally, I exploded – “What are doing on Facebook when you have homework due tomorrow?” I bellowed in my mom voice.  “I’m working on my math assignment,” she said, turning her screen to face me.   And there I saw a long line of back and forth, cosine and tangents and all kinds of symbols scrolling down the text box.  “It’s just taking a while because it’s a pain to type in all the symbols,” she explained, and she returned to her work.

My daughter’s a really strong math student (credit my husband’s genes) but she’s often prone to racing through homework impatiently, never stopping to spend more than a few minutes on a tricky problem and waiting until class to get an explanation. So working on math with others – either tutoring kids who aren’t as adept or puzzling out problems through a back and forth with her peers – has taken her to the next level.  With a schedule packed with extracurriculars and loads of other homework, my daughter doesn’t always have time to hang around school and work with others face to face – and plus, in person encounters can devolve into chit chat.  Social media supports the same collaboration, plus it actually forces focus since when you’re chatting back and forth at a rapid clip, the person on the other end doesn’t want to be waiting around for 10 minutes for a response (email isn’t even as immediate).  Moreover, to the extent that my daughter would want to go back and check the steps for doing a problem, the notes remain there.

Someday when my daughters are grown, they may be someone else’s clients.  Moreover, they’ll be clients to those lawyers who understand and have lived the same scene: the computer on one side, hard copies of paper on the other and a real live person interacting on the other side of the screen.

Has social media changed the way you work? Let me know how.

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