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October 30, 2012

WSBA Live Chat: Behind the Scenes

by contributor

In early October, UW School of Law Dean Kellye Testy and WSBA Executive Director Paula Littlewood teamed up for a live online chat about the future of the legal profession. Hundreds of you logged in to ask questions on subjects like changing demographics, employment prospects, and emerging trends in the profession. As the WSBA’s communications specialist, I’m behind the scenes at each chat helping to make sure everything goes smoothly. Here’s how we do it!

There literally is a “chat room.” (Okay, it’s really just a conference room with a bunch of laptops set up.) That’s where you’ll find Paula, our guest participants, and a handful of staff when the chat begins. We use CoverItLive to host our chats; if you’ve ever used Gchat or Instant Messenger, you already know how it works. During the session, we project the chat onto a wall so everyone can see what’s happening, and the volume level rises as we announce incoming messages, assign questions, and post replies. It can get pretty noisy!

Questions come in faster than we can answer them. If you’ve ever submitted a question, only to sit there wondering where it went, rest assured, we’re not ignoring you! Questions and comments start coming in as soon as we launch the chat, and our goal is to get to as many as possible in the hour-long discussion. Some questions — like a request for a specific document — are most efficiently answered via a private message, so in that case, you might hear directly from me or another moderator.

Your comments are welcome! In our chats, many people send in questions, but others just want to make a comment or express their opinion on a topic. While Paula and her guests are working on answering your questions, I’m reading and publishing your comments in order to keep the conversation moving.

The chat may end, but the conversation continues. Even after the chat is over, you’re always welcome to get in touch with us. Our Service Center is happy to answer your questions or direct you to our online resources. And, because the last discussion with Paula Littlewood and Dean Testy attracted a large crowd that expressed a lot of interest in the topic, they’ve both agreed to take the discussion about the future of the profession offline. A forum has been scheduled for November 29, beginning at 5:30 p.m. It will be held at the WSBA-CLE Conference Center in Seattle. For those unable to attend in person, you’ll be able to join via webcast. Please watch for more information coming soon, and in the meantime save the date of November 29.

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