Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Legal OnRamp : A Collaborative Online Legal Network Community of In-House Legal Staffs and Outside Law Firms

Via The Common Scold and Monica Bay, we read some news about Legal OnRamp, "a community of legal professionals from leading companies, law firms, and law schools" being created by invitation only, although interested organizations, firms and companies should contact them at the email given at that website.

Inside Counsel, "[t]he premier business magazine for general counsel and corporate legal executives", has an article by Keith Ecker about Legal OnRamp at Counsel Connection., where he wrote in July:

"By enabling attorneys to collaborate, the creators of Legal OnRamp hope legal departments can leverage each other’s knowledge to reduce costs. For example, Cisco has already considered the possibility of collaborating with other legal departments to create online training modules at a fraction of the price....

Aside from allowing GCs to collaborate with their peers, Legal OnRamp offers features that will help in-house counsel leverage the services and knowledge of outside law firms."

Terry Carter in New Routes Into the Corporate Door at the ABA Journal wrote in August:

"If Cisco Systems general counsel Mark Chandler is right, the information superhighway will be littered with law firms like so much road kill.---

Chandler’s new baby, the LegalOnramp, is one example of those change efforts. It is a members-only online community of corporations’ in-house legal staffs and outside law firms. Everything about LegalOnramp is geared to information sharing, collaboration and (its main reason for being) negotiating honest value for legal work.

In place of surfing from one law-firm Web site to another in search of legal updates, FAQs, forms, templates and the like, LegalOnramp offers all that and more in a single, limited-access site. Added to that mix are:

  • The entire knowledge-management databases of individual member firms.
  • Wiki collaboration on legal knowledge and strategies.
  • A version of the Facebook social-network site for greater community.
  • A developing, “craigslist” way of pitching and getting business that avoids the troublesome features of requests for proposals.
LegalOnramp won’t be formally announced till later this year, if at all, says Paul Lippe, a lawyer with expertise in Web technologies who Chandler tapped to build it. But after 15 corporations came together in its legal services network last March along with about 25 law firms, the program started growing quickly. By early June, the tally was 30 companies and more than 100 law firms." [links added by Law Pundit]

What is intriguing here is that no one knows where this will end and what consequences it will have on the established legal scene. The intent, of course, is to reduce costs and save money, but experience shows that lawyers are often needed, perhaps moreso than before, to handle new problems which arise from purported solutions to old problems.

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