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IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law Student Bar Association : Model for social media initiative

20130218-223557.jpg Dan Massoglia (@jujueyeball) is a 2L at IIT Chicago-Kent by way of the University of Virginia. He’s studying, primarily, labor law and media reform. Massoglia is also involved with various social justice causes in Chicago.

I met Massoglia through the net when I asked on Twitter if any law schools were highlighting their alumni on social media. The idea being that leveraging the law school’s brand, the school could showcase their alumni to the legal and business community while also endearing alumni to the school for fund raising.

Massoglia responded that Kent Law does and that he initiated the program. I was impressed and wanted to learn more. Here’s the story that can serve as a role model for other law schools.

In the spring of last year, while running for a position as a 2L class representative, Massoglia pitched the idea of expanding the Student Bar Association (SBA) to include a new media component with the purpose of helping make Kent a leader in the emerging area of social media and the law. Eventually, rather than becoming a 2L Rep, Massoglia was given the responsibility of starting and directing a Social Media group for the SBA.

The goals were two-fold, per Massoglia. In the micro sense, having an active presence on social media was a no-brainer. The SBA’s Facebook and Twitter (@KentLawSBA) advertise events by student groups, provide up-to-date information about job postings, share legal news, highlight student and alumni achievements, and highlight important speakers or conferences at Kent.

On a larger level, the new media initiative hopes to emphasize and shape the relationship between social media and the law, and is developing a number of projects to do so. As the Internet changes society–and as lawyers increasingly utilize social media in hiring, casework, advocacy, and public relations–Massoglia believes law schools and law students have a duty to be on the forefront of this change.

Different teams manage different elements of the new media group, which is split between Facebook, Twitter, and other projects. There is some specialization within–the Facebook team, for example, has individuals dedicated to getting and posting photos from school events, finding and sharing “jobs of the day,” and performing other roles as need requires.

Subject to certain guidelines, all members may post legal news as they see fit, and the same is true for student events, alumni news, and reminders about school deadlines. Groups communicate by way of email with periodic in-person meetings, and while Massoglia bottom-lines the project, so to speak, things run fairly smoothly on their own with minimal interference from Massoglia beyond his own postings and general reminders about PR and social media best practices. Student groups and individuals have started reaching out to them with content, making the group’s job that much easier.

Massoglia reports directly to SBA President Emily Acosta, who has been excited about and receptive to the program. The SBA at large as well has been pleased with the results. Likewise, a couple of team members and Massoglia work with the Alumni Association and Career Services Office to ensure that their institutional interests are heard and respected, their programs are shared, and that notable events (a speech at Kent by Justice Kennedy, for example) are live-tweeted.

On an operational level, team members have access to the medium on which they primarily work. The Twitter team has the password to twitter, the Facebook team has administrative access to the Facebook–that sort of thing. The group toyed early on with the idea of using HootSuite or another third party service to manage their content, but given the relatively low volume they decided against this approach.

The new media initiative has done well, the SBA’s response has been very positive, the Alumni Association has been eager to work with them, and the group is in regular communication with the Career Services Office. Starting from zero in early August, their Facebook page has 266 likes and and 116 followers on Twitter. They have engaged with firms, local blogs, alumni, and students in the process.

Specifically with regard to Alumni, the group shares achievements of Kent alums on Facebook and Twitter. Much of this comes via Acosta and the Alumni Association, but the team is always looking for ways to expand their access to this news.

Early on, there was a dedicated team for LinkedIn, but this has proved difficult to utilize effectively for a number of reasons, not least of which time and the fact that Massoglia’s experience is primarily with Twitter and Facebook. Likewise, the new media team has prepared a “Student Spotlight” series which consists of short posts from students about their legal experiences.

The sooner lawyers realize social media is future, the better, per Massoglia.

I’d welcome hearing about the social media initiatives at other law schools. Know of any?