In the Web 2.0 world, companies interact and learn from their customers via the web. What lesson can we draw for the legal market? 

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World in the Wall Street Journal Business Insight / Journal Report today explains how major companies use Web 2.0 approaches to connect with consumers. (It also offers a brief over of what Web 2.0 is.)

Business to consumer (B2C) is approximately a one to many relationship. Even with stiff competition among suppliers, consumers outnumber suppliers by several orders of magnitude. The legal market, in contrast, is a business to business market (B2B) characterized by many to many relationships. That is, there are a large number of both suppliers and consumers. Consequently, it is harder for any single law firm supplier to engage its consumers (clients) in Web 2.0 dialogue.

Law firm suppliers and law departments consumers – that does not let you off the hook. Your answer cannot be “I can ignore Web 2.0”. Instead, it must be the question “how can I take advantage of Web 2.0 to improve the service we offer / receive?”

The best answer to that question I’ve seen to date is Legal OnRamp. In its by-invitation model, which limits the community to serious suppliers and consumers, I believe the legal market can replicate many of the benefits the WSJ explains accrue to companies using Web 2.0 to connect to consumers.

The only question is will law firms and law departments 1.0 realize this before law departments and law firms 2.0 take over.