Friday, August 24, 2007

JD Supra, Why I'm Signing On

[Cross-posted to my law firm web strategy blog]

One of the intended effects of starting this business was to force me to focus. You see, I've always been this multi-discipline kind of guy -- web marketer, KM practitioner, coder developer, law librarian, etc. (you can check my profile, if you don't know me) -- lots of interests and lots of hats, but always with a web-information delivery bent, and always within the legal market.

I've also tried to recognize that it was those varying interests that tied me together; gave me my perspective. And while I'm appreciative of my time working in law firms, it was the opportunity to roll those skills into a single focus that drove me to the Stem concept.

Beyond worrying about the company's financial viability [Note to concerned friends: it's going better than expected! stop worrying...], my biggest concern coming out the gate has been the possibility of losing my connection to the things that interest me, like Knowledge Management. And so, even in the earliest stages of my business plan, I made myself this promise: Along the way, I reserve the right to work on projects that I believe in.

That doesn't mean I want to be a KM consultant. Trust me, there's only one Ron Friedmann. [that's a plug btw, in case you missed it. ;-) ]

It just so happens that I love the KM literature -- the puzzle of how to codify knowledge & expertise, and what that information tells us. I also believe there's a strong link from internal KM collections to the development of online marketing product. But that's another post...

So, Day 1 of operation, I come down to my new office. Out of the HSBC building in downtown Vancouver, and into my newly retooled office, a.k.a. my basement. :-) My voice mail is flashing, and the person on the other end is Aviva Cuyler, a lawyer in the San Francisco bay area. Cool, a great way to start!

Well, she wasn't inquiring for her firm, but I found the call no less interesting. We talked for a good hour. About her new website - JD Supra. About lawyer work product, and what it can tell about an individual's expertise - especially within niche areas of the law. How research and filings and court successes can qualify a lawyer's knowledge & experience. And how in a world where everyone 'says' they're an expert, this new website has the chance to 'prove', or at least validate, that a lawyer can execute what they've said they can.

Now she's got my KM interest - a qualification tool that would tie work product to professional profile. A tool that would give credit to the lawyers and firms that contribute, including logos and links back to their firm website. Perhaps a future that includes some Community 2.0 tools? collaboration? networking opportunities? My mind is now working overtime.

So there it is. I'm sold. If there's a better fit for all those varying interests of mine, I'm not sure what it would be. Aviva Cuyler's vision is unique, and yet well aligned to the type of product I would conceive of myself. I think JD Supra is set to become an important web 2.0 offering for the legal industry. And that's why I'm signing on.

I'll say more soon, and sorry about the month-early tease (launch is slated for late September 2007). If you're a legal researcher, writer, or gatekeeper for in-house precedents, there is an early bird opportunity for those willing to contribute. You can sign up on the JD Supra homepage or email Aviva directly to get involved.

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