I’ve been managing the Legal Blogging Group on LinkedIn for the last couple years. In addition to blogging for legal professionals, members of the group share news, information, insight, and commentary on all forms of social media.

Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS Readers, the group has become a leading place for professionals to ask questions, exchange knowledge, and network with peers.

Like any network or, for that matter, a luxury box at a ballgame, by pulling this group together so as to provide networking opportunities for others I generate a lot of goodwill for myself. Goodwill that leads to connecting with legal professionals, marketing/communications executives, and industry leaders.

These connections lead to business development opportunities for my company LexBlog. Opportunities generated not from hawking the services of our company or LexBlog’s law network, but opportunities generated by bringing people together and offering to help where I can.

I also feel good about myself when I’m helping others — not a bad side benefit in and of itself from running a LinkedIn group.

Starting a group on LinkedIn is a wonderful networking and business development opportunity for you as a lawyer. Whether it’s focused on a locale (state, town, metro area) or niche area of the law, the doors are wide open.

Don’t worry if there’s a similar group already in existence. There’s plenty of lawyers in your town or niche that are competing against you. Does that you mean you pull in the shutters and not go out to network to build relationships and extend your word of mouth reputation? Hardly.

Some LinkedIn groups are better than others. By and large those LinkedIn Groups regarding legal matters are not that good.

Good meaning led by a group manager who not only approves for membership only those who look they have something relevant to offer, but also only allows relevant discussion so as to prevent self promoters from spamming the group.

It’s not difficult nor time consuming to moderate membership or the discussion. An hour per week is generally more than enough.

That’s well within the three to five hours per week successful lawyers are spending on professional and business development. With LinkedIn becoming the profile of record for professionals around the world, LinkedIn is also not a bad place to be spending your networking time.

To learn more about starting a LinkedIn Group check out the create a group page on LinkedIn and the FAQ’s which accompany the page.