The dot-com boom is dead. Long live the dot-com boom. Two sites recently caught my eye as examples of why the boom has created a lasting legacy. 

One site is a source for specialized information. Automatic external defibrillators (AED) are life saving devices that re-start a chaotically beating heart; you can see them in airports, gyms, and offices. AED Risk Insights “provides AED law information, risk management and public policy services to organizations with AEDs, those considering the purchase of AEDs, AED suppliers, attorneys, legislators, the media and others seeking to understand the complex issues surrounding the deployment of AEDs in public settings.”

Another example is ARMA’s recently released Risk Profiler Self Assessment for records managers and for those concerned with e-discovery. “The Risk Profiler Self-Assessment for E-Discovery helps companies fully understand their potential weaknesses in litigation and discovery before they reactively implement the wrong vendor-supplied solution…. The assessment is a user-friendly, automated, guided self-assessment tool that provides a diagnostic analysis of your organization’s strengths and weaknesses. The secure, online assessment will guide you through your organization’s most vulnerable areas.”

The ease of creating web sites and ubiquitous web access for business has changed the economics of both old-fashioned printed newsletters and dispensing advice. The barrier to create a niche information product such as AED Risk Insights or a self-help service such as the Risk Profiler is much lower now than pre-Web.

AED Risk Insights is, according to founder Richard Lazar, “not a substitute for talking to a lawyer; rather it’s a tool and resource to comply with the law, both for lawyers and business people.” But these and other web sites may affect the legal ecosystem. On the one hand, they may help lawyers in their work; they may even increase the demand for advice by alerting clients to issues.

On the other hand, if specialized services proliferate, BigLaw may have to climb ever higher up the value chain or perhaps compete head-on by offering their own focused online services. Online legal services have not fared as well as I expected, but seeing these two web sites, I wonder if we won’t see a second round in the next few years.