Recently I have learned of not one, but two law firms that have commercialized extranets, creating separate entities to market products and services.  

In my last posting on Extranets, I suggested that law firm Extranets are more touted than used. I do not have good data on actual usage, so my anecdotal impression may well be misplaced. And I do know a handful of firms whose Extranets are used regularly and extensively by clients.

Judging by their action to create separate entities to market extranets, at least two law firms perceive that a market exists for additional, legally-focused extranets. Tom Baldwin, formerly consultant to Foley & Lardner and now CKO of Sheppard Mullin, alerted me to Haynes & Boone’s hbconnect Extranet, which has created separate entity, ClientConnect to offer customizable Extranet services.

Separately, Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold LLP has created a subsidiary called Xerdict, which also offers customizable Extranets.

It will be interesting to see how these two offerings fare in the market. It seems to me a competitive space, with offerings by Hummingbird, Interwoven (owner of iManage), Documentum (owner of eRoom), and Intralinks, among others. The market does not seem to be crying out for additional choices. There is, of course, always the possibility of the proverbial “better mousetrap.”

If I were advising a law firm about selecting an Extranet product, I would focus first on functionality, including ease of use and administration. Another consideration is the company offering the product – its stability, focus, market position, and incentives. It can be hard enough to evaluate a software company that is purely free-standing; it would seem even harder to evaluate one affiliated with a law firm.