A recent tweet reminded me that, almost 15 years ago, Peter Martin and I spent the day with members of the Bar Association of the City of New York. As I recall, the best moment of the day was an extended peroration from Chris Locke (a/k/a rageboy) on the subject of lawyers and the Internet which, in his mind at least, had something to do with dinosaurs calling to one another in a swamp (yeah, I know, and for the life of me I can’t remember what it had to do with the subject at hand, either — but one of Chris’ great virtues is that he can suspend that kind of disbelief, apparently by holding his mouth right).
Second best (sorry, Peter) was Peter Martin’s presentation on why lawyers belong on the Internet. Perhaps it might have better been titled “What the Internet offers lawyers”. Peter mentioned five things:
- clients and potential clients are there
- other law firms are establishing themselves on the Net (there were only two, at the time)
- conversation among lawyers and maybe clients is taking place there
- cost-effective access to (legal) information
- cost-effective global communication of data of all sorts
These may seem obvious now. At the time, they weren’t. And maybe they’re not so obvious even today, or maybe each new technology that comes along makes us revisit these same arguments:
- clients and potential clients? Kevin O’Keefe gets rhapsodic about LinkedIn (6/2008)
- other law firms? Muzeview’s law firm Internet presence rankings for December are here.
- conversation among lawyers and maybe clients? See Justia’s LegalBirds, LexTweet, and maybe just plain old Twitter itself.
- cost effective access to legal information? o hai, westlawz [1, 2, 3....]. And there are over a million inbound links to the LII alone.
- cost effective global communication of data? heh.
So… these things just keep coming around again and again, getting stronger in each cycle. Fifteen years from now? (kthxbye, westlawz….)