Rebecca Levey (@beccasara) co-founder of KidzVuz.com and a White House Champion of Change for Education, writes at Mashable this morning why being young doesn’t make you a social media expert.

Though addressing her 10 year old daughters, there’s a lesson to be had for law firms who look to their younger lawyers as social media experts. Even with enough expertise to teach other lawyers in the firm or, worse yet, to network on behalf of themselves and the firm via social media.

Though you may look at your young lawyers as “digital natives” and being Internet savvy, they may me digital Mr. Magoos, as Levey calls her daughters.

From Levey,

I live a good deal of my life online. The ease with which I move between Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, chat and other social media is second nature and central to my work. It never occurred to me that my daughters would have no idea what they were doing when they entered the social media space. After all, for me it’s just an extension of my “real” life. But I quickly came to realize that of course is the crux of the issue when it comes to tweens and teens online: they are just starting to figure out what it means to be social in their real world. Adding in social media amplifies and intensifies all of the bumbling mistakes, mean girl tendencies and just out right naivitee.

Over the past year I’ve watched my daughters and their friends set up email accounts, Instagram accounts and various chat apps on their newly acquired smartphones and iPods. It’s clear that they are truly clueless. (emphasis added)

Networking for business development is not an innate skill for most young professionals. Heck, it’s not an innate skill for senior lawyers — just ask around.

Networking to build relationships, to learn, and to share is not taught in law school or undergrad. It’s a rare law grad that got their job in law via networking. It’s even rarer for law firms to hire based on relationships their hiring lawyers made with law grads via networking through the Internet, or offline.

Young lawyers are just starting to figure out what it means to be social in the real ‘professional world.’ Law firms need to recognize this and help their young lawyers with social media, as social media pertains to networking through the Internet.

Law firms ought to put together educational programs where the principals of networking for relationship and reputation building are the lynchpins — the type networking done by your senior lawyers who have developed a strong book of business. Then, and only then, tie networking through the net and the social media tools that entails to the process.

Work from the top down, senior lawyers lead, not from the bottom up, younger lawyers lead, when it comes to social media for your law firm and its lawyers.

Image courtesy of Flickr by thievingjoker.