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The Legal Twitterverse Loses a Shining Star


Twitter users have come to expect it to be a first-line source for major, world-changing news. Earthquakes rocking China. Shootings roiling Mumbai. Many people first learned of these events by way of tweets on Twitter. For many of us, such news -- major though it is -- is far removed from our day-to-day lives. But over the long Memorial Day weekend, the legal community came to grips with the realization that sometimes the news delivered via Twitter hits painfully close to home.

Securities lawyer Mark Astarita may have best summed up the sentiment of many legal tweeters when he posted late Friday, "No one told me that my twitter friends would pass away." His Twitter friend -- the Twitter friend of many legal professionals -- was known by her Twitter name lilyhill. Shortly after noon on Friday, after lilyhill had been uncharacteristically silent for several days, this brief message appeared under her Twitter name: "This is lilyhills daughter. She passed away on wednesday due to a stroke." There, in Twitter's bare-bones style, news that pierced the hearts of many legal professionals.

Her real name was Roberta Frazier. Lilyhill was the name of her Philadelphia-based consulting business. Here is how she described herself in her brief Twitter bio: "Paralegal, SOHO Consultant, Digital Coach, Trail Guide for the Techno-Paranoid. Ok, Office Goddess. My coffee mug says so." She was among JD Scoop's original list of 145 legal professionals to follow on Twitter. Those of us who did follow her quickly learned to appreciate her intelligence, insight and humor and to look forward to her tweets.

On Roberta's Facebook page, her daughter posted a note with more information about her death. Sometime on Sunday or Monday last week, she was home alone when she suffered a massive stroke. When she did not show up for work on Monday, her boss went to her house and somehow found her. She was taken to a hospital, where she died on Tuesday.

Search lilyhill on Twitter to read some of the outpouring of grief that flowed from other legal tweeters throughout the weekend and that continues today. In a post, On Missing @lilyhill, at the blog Practical Paralegalism, Lynne DeVenny remembers Roberta through some of her tweets and the direct messages that they shared on Twitter. She remembers Roberta as one of "my bright stars in the Twitterverse."

Many of us this morning share the sadness described by another tweeter and blogger, Gloria Bell. And we share also her surprise at realizing the deep sadness we can feel over the death of a person we knew only virtually. I never met lilyhill. But I feel as if I knew her. And I know for certain that the sadness I feel about her death is anything but virtual.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 26, 2009 at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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