Friday, February 8, 2008

Legal OnRamp - A Social Network and Collaborative Platform for Lawyers

Paul Lippe invited me into Legal OnRamp. In a quick categorization it is a social media site for lawyers and general counsel. I immediately thought of Lawlink.

But Legal OnRamp is much more than a buzzword site trying to be the Facebook or LinkedIn for lawyers. First, it is focused on in-house legal counsel. Law firms are expected to contribute content and bring another client into Legal OnRamp to gain admittance. As a result, Legal OnRamp is accumulating substantive legal knowledge in its system. There are many FAQs written by lawyers, a collection of client alerts and updates from law firms.

Legal OnRamp is also acting as a platform for subscription sites for law firm communications and collections. Eversheds has a few resources available through Legal OnRamp: Knowledge Banks, e80, Alumni, HR Contract Builder, Deeds Online and Directors' Law of Europe. [I do not have access to the information.] Paul also showed me a few other firms that provided gated access into their information.

Second, Legal OnRamp does provide the social network type features you expect from LinkedIn and other social networking sites. You can publish bios, establish links with other member, etc. This allows you to find expertise. I ran a search for "knowledge management" and found a few people in the legal knowledge management field.

A big differentiating factor with Legal OnRamp is that it was established by in-house counsel for in-house counsel. They want the information from the law firms aggregated into one place. I saw a similar aggregation by UK firms for the banking industry in the UK. The big banks got together and roped the magic circle firms into creating a central place where all of their client alerts, updates and information on the industry would be stored. As a result you have a one stop shop for legal information in the industry.

I plant to keep an eye on Legal OnRamp as it progresses. This is very different model for the relationship and interaction between law firms and in-house counsel.

I have some updates on Legal Onramp that I will post separately.

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