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BC Law to Launch New Online Community

alumni news

Newton, MA, October 19, 2007--Boston College Law School has reached agreement with Internet services company Harris Connect to build a new online community for BC Law alumni and students.  The system, scheduled to launch in early Spring 2008, contains a number of all-new features, including a customized alumni directory, a career advisor network, chapter webpages and email lists, event registration and online payment options, online class notes, customized broadcast email capability, and profile pages for personal and professional networking.

"We're really excited about this system," said Marianne Lord, Associate Dean for Institutional Advancement at BC Law.  "The online community is going to allow us to offer services of great value to our alumni, and will help us keep in touch with them better than we ever have before.  It's really a whole new beginning for alumni relations efforts at the Law School."

At the core of the new Harris system is the database, which is far more robust and customizable than before.  The system will allow each user to access and edit his or her data and privacy settings.  The use of personal profile pages allows the system to provide information relevant to each user, such as class notes for their graduation year and photo galleries and events of particular interest to them.

Online event registration and payment capabilities are built right into the new system, which will make it much easier for the School to advertise conferences and manage special events for alumni, and the broadcast email tools make it possible to send out customized emails built specifically around an individual's areas of interest.  Each alumni chapter will also have its own webpage, enabling the chapter to create event notices, put up photo galleries, and manage email lists.

But perhaps the most important part of the new system is the Career Advisor Network.  This module will allow alumni to sign up as mentors, and find other alumni who may be able to help them in their career search.

"The career network is a very powerful tool for alumni networking," said Maris Abbene, Director of Career Services.  "It takes in a lot of very detailed data from alumni at all stages of their careers, so that people who are searching for something very specific can find just what they need.  Let's say you're a recent graduate who has moved to the Atlanta area and you'd like to find out what it takes to become a partner in a firm focused on IP law.  This system doesn't just allow you to search for partners of law firms in your area, you can also see the type of work they do, and the jobs that they held at each stage of their careers, so you can understand how they got to where they are now—and of course, it allows you to get in touch with them to learn more.  It's like a road map to where you want to go."

Abbene said that the system allows complete control, so that mentors can choose how much information they want to have appear during a search.  "When you sign up you can choose to reveal everything, or nothing but a job title," she said.  "You can decide whether your information is available only to certain search categories.  As a mentor, you will control your own availability—if you choose to go inactive for a period of time, you can set that automatically."

The Law School did its due diligence during the discussions with Harris, and the company and system received high marks.  "The schools we talked to who are using Harris felt the online community was an important addition to their alumni relations program," said Nate Kenyon, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Law School.  "And those using the career network module all thought it had been wildly successful for them.  The bottom line is, does it help alumni stay connected, network and find better jobs?  The answer has been a resounding yes."

Harris has already contracted with the undergrad school at Boston College, launching their version of the online community in September.  The company will now build what is called a "smart site" for the Law School, which will provide a customized look and feel, as well as features and search fields specific to BC Law.  The build process for the community will take approximately three to four months, with the launch date for phase one sometime in early Spring 2008.  Phase two, which includes the career network, will launch approximately one month later.

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