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DirectLaw Virtual Law Firm Learning Center 

Introduction

This section of the DirectLaw web site is devoted to helping lawyers who are just exploring the idea of delivering legal services online through a virtual law firm platform and want to learn more about how these ideas can be incorporated into their law firm business models.

Our Virtual Law Firm Learning Center is organized as online course with discrete units organized around issues.  Each section addresses a specific topic.  From time to time we will offer online webinars to supplement these topics through our interactive online community of virtual law firms at VirtualLawyerConnect. To explore more of these issues in depth, we encourage you to join VirtualLawyerConnect.  Membership in VirtualLawyerConnect is limited to attorneys. Within VirtualLawyerConnect you will find more detailed content, discussions groups, and opportunities to connect with other lawyers who are experimenting with online legal services. VirtualLawyerConnect provides an opportunity for interaction and communication, whereas the materials found here are designed to provide information and analysis on basic concepts.

We also maintain a separate Customer Support Portal where you will find additional FAQs and Community Resources (Forums)  on using the DirectLaw Virtual Law Firm Platform. We welcome your feedback, suggestions, and questions.

Contents

1.0  What is a Virtual Law Firm?
2.0  What are the "benefits" of a Virtual Law Firm?
3.0  Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS)
4.0  What is web-enabled document automation?
5.0  What are "unbundled legal services?"
6.0  Ethical Issues in Delivering Legal Services OnLine?
7.0  Marketing Legal Services OnLine.

Our thesis is that the platform for the delivery of legal services for a variety of types of law practice is changing. Seth Godin, a leading commentator on the impact of the Internet on society and business, calls it the WordPerfect Axiom. What he says applies equally to the impact of the Internet on the legal profession: “When the platform changes, the leaders change.”

WordPerfect had a virtual monopoly on word processing in big firms that used DOS. Then Windows arrived and the folks at WordPerfect didn’t feel the need to hurry in porting themselves to the new platform. They had achieved lock-in after all, and why support Microsoft. In less than a year, they were toast.”

“When the game machine platform of choice switches from Sony to xBox to Nintendo, etc., the list of best selling games change and new companies become dominant. When the platform for music shifted from record stores to iTunes, the power shifted too, and many labels were crushed.”

“Again and again the same rules apply. In fact, they always do. When the platform changes, the deck gets shuffled. Insiders become outsiders and new opportunities abound.”

Jordon Furlong, the former editor-in-chief of National, the Journal of the Canadian Bar Association, elaborates on the idea that as the Internet becomes a new platform for the delivery of legal services, its impact will be seen as revolutionary:

“It’s a revolution, and like all revolutions, the benefits will lag behind the costs. It’s going to be messy and even ugly for awhile — platform shifts are neither neat nor bloodless. Think back to the hassles we all went through with Word-to-WordPerfect conversions while the two programs battled it out. Remember the upheaval in the auto industry as electricity began to shove oil off its fuel platform and the damage that caused to gigantic automakers saddled with suddenly unsellable gas-guzzlers. Think of the carnage in the record and newspaper industries as the internet took away their platforms and rewrote the rules of their games. It may take longer, it may not be as brutal, and it may not generate as much attention in the wider world, but the legal services marketplace is starting to go through something very similar. And there will be casualties.”

“When the platform changes, insiders replace outsiders and opportunities abound. Get ready.” See: http://www.law21.ca/2010/03/17/the-platform-is-changing/

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Copyright © 2011, Richard S. Granat