Though online legal services may have plateaued (see here), a Wall Street Journal article yesterday reports that online compliance training is booming. 

In Training Firms Find Niche in Compliance Needs (subscribers to online WSJ, click here), the Journal reports on systems to educate workers and protect against legal liability. A “growing number of small businesses… deliver ‘learning-management’ systems — software and content to train and certify employees on everything from how to write legally sound e-mails to keeping up with the mandates of the Patriot Act.” A major reason for the growth “is a renewed zeal among companies to show they’ve made a good-faith effort to promote an ethically sound culture.”

The article provides useful insight but, in my opinion, does not make sufficiently clear the distinction between a technology platform and content. It opens with a discussion about Pathlore, which is a learning management system. From the Pathlore web site, it appears to focus on a system to manage and deliver content and track learning, though the company has several content partners. The article also discusses LRN, which is familiar to many in the legal market. LRN, from what I understand, focuses on creating and delivering content and compliance, not on selling a platform per se.

I leave it to others to determine if Pathlore and LRN compete head-on (as the article seems to suggest). But lawyers and executives who seek compliance and ethics online training systems need to distinguish between platforms and content.

Judging by the entries on my list of firms with online services, a few firms have already taken advantage of this market opportunity. There is probably room to do more.