Log In for Legal Camaraderie
Rubin Sinins, JD ’94, is spinning an online web. The criminal defense lawyer and a legal-minded friend launched the professional networking Web site Iamici, and they want you to join in.
Iamici, which loosely means “Internet friends of the court,” is devoted to bringing together law professionals to hash out cases and build bridges in the field.
Sinins recently took on a few Internet-based cases in his practice, he says, and he got to thinking: “It occurred to me what was missing from the legal profession was a mechanism for legal professionals to communicate virtually and share ideas,” he says. “So I sought to fill the void.”
The site launched during the first week in March, and Sinins and his Web partner, Leif Knutsen, hatched a plan to get fellow lawyers to sign on. They brought in committees from the Essex County Bar Association, Sinins’ local association and the largest county bar in New Jersey, to try out the site.
“We’re hoping to get the committees to use it so members of the committees can work together [online], share information, and utilize the services,” says Sinins, who lives in Short Hills, N.J., and works as a litigation partner at Javerbaum Wurgaft Hicks Kahn Wikstrom & Sinins in the Newark office. Now that Essex County Bar Association is a model, he hopes to approach other bar associations to reel in more members. Some 120 lawyers have already signed on.
Membership is free—you need only dream up a user name and provide an e-mail address and password—to log in for chats, read or write blogs, join forums, make buddies, and start a group discussion. There’s also a help-wanted page where members post and browse jobs, and a list of legal research resources, including links to all states’ judiciary Web sites.
“Although Iamici is national, we’re of the strong opinion that law is practiced locally. What we have envisioned is more grassroots, more word-of-mouth,” Sinins says.
Sinins says Iamici is different from other networking sites because it’s dynamically created, so the users make up the large portion of the communities. Any set of like-minded people can form a group—from employment lawyers to attorneys who like to chat about judges on a Friday afternoon, Sinins says.
“You create the group and for each group created, there is a list server,” Sinins explains. Groups can also privately or openly share files or blogs, or hold discussions. Groups can be invite-only or moderated, where a gatekeeper allows new members to join the lawyer talk.
Every Iamici member can also create his or her own listserv, an electronic mailing list, and the site could coordinate hundreds or thousands of listservs at the same time.
Sinins is in a group of seven criminal defense lawyers who like to chat about cases and judges. “It’s as much personal as it is being a part of some organization,” says Sinins, who credits GW Law School with giving him firm footing in the legal field.
“While I was at GW, and even before, I had an interest in civil rights work and criminal work,” Sinins says. In his third year at GW Law, Sinins was a research assistant for professor Stephen Saltzberg, who developed his interest in criminal work.
“He was kind enough to grant me a scholarship in a trial advocacy course that he taught for practicing lawyers, and that really gave me a leg up in my practices,” says the criminal trial lawyer. Also at GW Law, he interned for A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Those experiences and more have helped Sinins on his career path, including his recently incorporated interests in technology and the Internet.
Now that the Essex County Bar Association has proved a successful test case, Sinins and his Web team are refining the site to make it a practical career tool.
He hopes his fellow lawyers can weave their own valuable virtual networks, he says: “We basically envisioned it based on what we thought would be useful to the legal community.”
Sinins invites you to start your own network of legal contacts at www.iamici.com.