Legal technology worlds collide: online legal services meet records management and e-discovery. 

E-mail archiving solution vendor Fortiva offers an online tool (“Policy Builder“) to generate a corporate electronic communication policy covering topics such as acceptable e-mail use and records retention. The tool is free; registration is required.

The interface of this web-based document assembly system is easy. It displays a detailed table of contents; you can edit or move any policy section. Most sections just let you edit default text but some contain business or legal logic. The tool generates a nicely formatted, customized PDF policy suitable for circulation. It covers a lot of ground; I suspect that a fair bit of lawyer time went into it.

Vendors may see a better business case for online legal services than do law firms. Vendors spend significant sums to establish credibility and generate sales leads. A free policy tool is innovative marketing. Given a choice between no policy, paying legal fees to write one, or using this tool, I can see that many companies/prospects would opt for the tool.

Marketing is a major corporate expense. Maybe this policy builder is a harbinger of a new technique: free policies in exchange for registration information. I see no threat to BigLaw yet. But BigLaw should ask whether the economic return on a free online tool is better than, say, a Wall Street Journal ad campaign?