I have updated the list of online legal services that I maintain. (I have also cleaned up the format a bit as well). The last full update was about 18 months ago. It’s fair to say the space is fairly quiet. 

I and many others have long thought that law firms and private companies would offer legal advice and guidance over the web. A combination of technologies allows creating systems that can advise, create documents, take users through intelligent checklists, route information via workflows, and present in-depth and well-organized content. (For purposes of this discussion, I do not include extranets, deal rooms, or matter management systems as online legal services.)

From about 1998-99 to around 2002, there was indeed a flurry of activity as many firms and companies developed online services. Since then, my impression, based on maintaining this list, is that there has been much less activity. For the most part, it seems that firms that created systems maintain them, but both “line extensions” and new entrants seem relatively rare. My impression is confirmed by casual conversations with some of those involved in creating or maintaining these services,

I find this a surprising result. Given the tremendous cost pressure inhouse counsel face, I thought that online services would be a growth market because it is a fairly sure way to reduce cost. Moreover, the “latent legal market,” identified by Richard Susskind, of corporate employees who need legal guidance but do not always receive it, is still present and presumably large. I have previously speculated on the Paucity of Online Legal Services and cannot add more now.

In my next posting, I will report on some of the trends and specific changes I noticed in updating the list.