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With a “build it and they will come” confidence, the New York State Bar Association this year undertook a major restructuring of its Web site. And boy, did they come. In the first month, Web traffic exploded from 1 million to 6 million hits before leveling off to 5 million. A big jump right off the bat is expected when a new Web site is unveiled. What was not anticipated is that the site would continue to run 400 percent ahead of its first-generation predecessor. Two months out, the new site ( www.nysba.org), inaugurated on May 1, is consistently netting more visitors, more users of enhanced services and more repeaters. “What is particularly gratifying for us is that the level of usage is staying high,” said Barbara A. Beauchamp, the site’s content editor. The state Bar has about 70,000 members, and in June its Web site tracked 72,000 visitors, including 25,000 who had never logged on before. “We are extremely pleased,” said State Bar Marketing Director Richard J. Martin. “This has just opened so many doors for us.” The state Bar had operated a Web site for a number of years, but it was well behind the times in both content and organization, Beauchamp said. A survey by the Electronic Communications Task Force, chaired by David P. Miranda of Heslin Rothenberg Farley & Mesiti PC in Albany, N.Y., showed that members spent a considerable amount of time online, but rarely bothered to visit the Bar’s site. Beauchamp said the problem was the old site was two generations in the past. Its modular design had no clear focal point and few visual roadmaps to lead the eye across the virtual terrain. It also lacked useful content. The new site is vastly different and is designed around the “backward six” of a traditional newspaper layout — a heading across the top directs the eye from left to right, down the right side and then into the circular portion of a mirror-image number “six.” In terms of content, the new site offers fresh legal news from about two dozen legal trade newspapers and magazines, including news from American Lawyer Media, which owns and publishes law.com and the New York Law Journal. Also each of the association’s 23 substantive law sections and many of its 50-plus committees maintain extranets, where members can post content. A new feature, MyNYSBA, allows members to set up personalized home pages while MyCLE provides a handy mechanism for tracking continuing legal education credits. “Design is important,” Beauchamp said. “Content is key.” FOCUS GROUPS Martin said the site was developed around survey and focus group responses. “There was a growing sense that our Web site was getting more and more out of date,” Martin said. “We knew that unless we made this investment, we could not deliver the substantial content that our members need.” So far, the most popular area is the public resources section, which provides lawyer referral information, legal information broken down by county and details on attorney grievance procedures. Running second is attorney resources, which include legal research, online forms and a searchable database of ethics opinions. Beauchamp said the single most downloaded item — by far — is the Lawyers Code of Professional Conduct. Since May 1, the code has been downloaded more than 10,000 times. The next largest download was a court guide, which was retrieved about 1,400 times. Beauchamp stressed that the site is member-driven, not advertiser-oriented. While it does offer some solicitations, there is a minimum of advertising. She said the goal is to build community, not advertising revenue. Access to the site and all of its offerings is covered by annual state Bar dues, which range from $70 to $235, depending on years of practice.

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