Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NY Times Covers Consumer Benefits of JD Supra

Full client disclosure here, but I really wanted to share this...

On Sunday, the NYTimes published a very flattering article on JD Supra titled, Lawyers Open Their File Cabinets for a Web Resource.

For me, this story is as close to the original vision for JD Supra as I've come across. While the research, sharing & marketing benefits are mostly evident, what tends to get overlooked is the public consumer angle. A very interesting part of this site's concept (for me) is the way people are empowered to make better decisions. Whether you're an Executive betting the company, or an individual hiring a lawyer, engaging legal help is an expensive proposition. Good decisions are obviously critical.

I'm not sure if, as the article says, Law is the last bastion; but do believe codified examples of work history can be part of the solution. Yet another element in moving toward the complete web-view of the legal professional.

Looking purely from a consumer's view, I see the benefits of sharing work product as:
  • The ability to read these documents & become better informed;
  • Increased reliability of documents where Lawyers take public ownership of them;
  • Researching legal issues within a collection of vetted documents;
  • Ability to identify a lawyer with rare experience (& not worth the lawyer's effort to market);
  • Ability to identify expertise by geographic region or practice area;
When decisions & execution are *this* important, I can't see DIY legal work being an issue. The question then becomes, are Consumers better off with these documents available?

That answer, at least for me, is a definite yes.

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Blogger Sami said...

Hi Steve,

I do agree with you that consumers (at least professionals aka prosumers) need more legal information to be able to take the right decisions whether it's family law (estate planning, wills etc), environmental law and anything to do with compliance.

The trick is how to share that information in a cost efficient manner. Of course web has made "free" the par for the course but then again, one might ask if you get what you pay for. Regardless, there's one area that is interesting for me as a non-lawyer. Who owns the IP of the work product? The client who pays potentially tens of thousands for the work product or the attorney who produced it?

In marketing world when I pay a consultant to produce say a video, I as a client own all IP and rights to the creative work product. I think this could be an interesting side discussion for this topic.

Bottom line, I like to share more and have more informed clients. But I think there's a risk of more and more people going pro se due to lack of resources or connections. I witnessed recently the aftermath (still) of Katrina in the St Bernard's parish in New Orleans. The fact that many families had insurance against wind damage but not against flood caused many to lose their homes and everything they possessed when insurance companies claimed that all the damage was from flood and not from the winds. I'm sure many attorneys supported their cases pro-bono but I am confident that many people just collected the little they had and left giving up.

Hopefully we can share more and make sure that the people who need the information most will have some kind of affordable access to the basics and online/web 2.0 is probably the best means for it.

7:02 PM  

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