By Kevin O'Keefe

Quora is growing exponentially – Is there an opportunity for lawyers?

quora open knowledgeQuora, the question-and-answer network edited and organized by its community of users grew by three times over the last year. This per Alexia Tsotsis (@alexia).

Though I don’t hear of many lawyers using it, Quora’s mission to share and grow the world’s knowledge seems to be a good fit for professionals, including lawyers.

As founder Adam D’Angelo (former Facebook CTO) explains it, there are pieces of knowledge all around the world stuck in people’s heads. It doesn’t exist on the Internet right now. What Quora is looking to do is end up in a world where everyone is creating information.

The public’s expectation that startup social networks are to get big fast, causes many to wonder to whether Quora is failing as a business. I like what Quora investor Peter Thiel (early investor in Facebook) has to say in response to such short-term thinking.

The focus, particularly in companies with exploding growth, is on next month’s, quarters, or, less frequently, years. That is too short a timeline. Old Economy mode works in the Old Economy. It does not work for thinking about tech and high growth businesses. Yet startup culture today pointedly ignores, and even resists, 10-15 year thinking.

Quora works for lawyers who have an abundance mentality, for those lawyers looking to give before asking to receive.

I was attracted to AOL’s message boards almost 20 years ago because I was fascinated by the opportunity to answer people’s questions in the areas of law in which I practiced. I had something to give. Knowledge that could only be pulled out of and reduced to copy on the Internet by people asking questions.

It felt good to give. And it felt good to be appreciated by the people who thanked me. I found I needed some of that ‘feeling good’ when spending my time in adversarial world where we beat each other up half the day. My team felt the love too.

Overtime, those of us answering questions on AOL and on listservs interfacing with consumers put two and two together and saw that our reputation was growing by answering questions online.

I think the same is true of lawyers answering questions on Avvo. Though I am not sure that those lawyers broadcasting on Twitter each time they answer a question on Avvo have an abundance mentality.

I bounced around Quora today to see what was going on in areas related to the law. If you go to the law category, Quora doesn’t look that great. It’s when you go into verticals and topics such as patent, IP, or covenant not to compete that you see the Q & A come alive.

No lawyer has then time to chase down every social network. I’m not telling you that you need to get on Quora. It’s just that some lawyers feel at home on some social networks, while other lawyers choose another.

Depending on your area of law and the pleasure you receive from sharing knowledge, Quora could be a good fit for you.

Your answers can be found on a Google search as well as in a search  by community members on Quora. You can also republish the questions on your blog. That’s how I got started in using the Internet to draw business – I reposted my AOL Q & A’s on a law firm website.

You’ll find people are attracted by not only knowledge, but by the fact that you cared enough to give of your time. In this day when lawyers are attracted to every short cut in the book to ‘market’ themselves, it’s refreshing to the public to find lawyer who’s real, caring, and authentic.

Check out this 5 minute video from Quora. It’s promotional in nature to attract employees, but it’s tasteful, low-key, and gives you feel about where they are headed.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Open Knowledge Foundation.

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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