Oct 23, 2012

Two New Legal Networking Sites Launch

7 Comments · Posted by Robert Ambrogi in General

Any site that sets out to become an exclusive online community for lawyers has a tough row to hoe. Lawyers are happy enough with LinkedIn and Facebook and do not seem all that interested in legal-vertical sites. We saw the ABA’s social networking site, LegallyMinded, shut down after barely two years. Another one, Lawford, launched last year and is already gone. Both Martindale-Hubbell Connected and Legal OnRamp are still operating, but the 2012 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report showed that both have only a fraction of lawyers as members — with 1.8% of lawyers saying they personally use Connected and 1% saying they use OnRamp.

So I was intrigued to see two different legal-vertical sites announce their launches this week: jdOasis.com and wireLawyer.com. Apart from lowercasing the first letters of their names, and allowing members to earn “points,” the two sites do not have much in common.

jdOasis is aiming for younger lawyers, law students and lawyer wannabes with an irreverent attitude that refers to its members as “monkeys” and “chimps,” lets members earn “banana points” and “silver bananas,” and penalizes members with “monkey shit.” “Our goal at jdOasis.com is to become the most entertaining and useful legal community online,” says the site’s “about” page.

So far, the site is nothing more than a collection of discussion forums. There are forums devoted to big law, law school, the bar and “monkeying around.” There is also the JDO Company Database, which users can search to find information on law firms (not companies).

The site indicates that, as it grows, there are plans to add other resources, including:

  • Industry and interview guides.
  • Mock interviews and career mentors.
  • LSAT prep discounts.
  • Professional legal resume review services.
  • A legal job board.

According to an email from the site’s founder, Patrick Curtis, this week’s launch announcement is actually a relaunch. I’m not sure what that means, except that it appears the site has been operating in some shape or form since 2010. Curtis is also founder of a site for financial professionals, WallStreetOasis.com.

Meanwhile, wireLawyer is a beta site that focuses on enabling attorneys to share documents and share advice. It also plans to enable lawyers to make referrals and to “insource/outsource” work. Its website describes it as “the first dedicated digital network created by lawyers for lawyers” — which, of course, is not true by a long shot — and it says it “brings the big firm practice to all lawyers.”

As it is now set up, its two main features are the DocSwap Pool and SmartQnA. The DocSwap Pool is described as “the first crowd-sourced peer-2-peer exchange for documents.” Of course, this also is not true. It goes on to explain:

For every document our lawyers upload, they receive points that allow them to access five documents from our pool for free.  For every lawyer they refer to the site, they can access one document from our pool for every uploaded document from the referred lawyer.  Additionally, DocSwap Documents are intelligent- NOT templates!  They are drafted by attorneys, rated & reviewed, categorized and tailored by our community of lawyers.  Finally, wireLawyers get more points for “smart” documents.  The higher your document rates and the more it’s downloaded- you get wirePoints that make you more prestigious and allow you to buy more services.  Oh, and when we sell your document- you get 20% of profits (and 2% of referred lawyer documents)!

I take that to mean that the site will be charging for documents, but I could find nothing that explained pricing.

With regard to SmartQnA, here is how the site describes it:

wireLawyer crowdsources smart partner-mentor advice.  There is no practice of the law without the free flowing exchange of ideas.  The SmartQnA allows lawyers to ask questions to their peers.  Noise is controlled by only allowing registered lawyer-users to answer.  Answers are ranked, rated and socially integrated.  And the more you answer and interact, the more wirePoints you receive.  wireLawyer also allows lawyers to form practice groups that exchange ideas (and documents).  No more email list-serves.  Access the conversation when you want and more fully (of course you can set your settings to receive emails/texts tailored to what you want to receive).

The site is the creation of Matthew Tollin, a Harvard Law School graduate whose biography describes him as an Emmy-winning founding partner of The Solarium Group, the former general counsel of NYC Media Group, and a former associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.

So there you have it. Two sites offering you your choice of banana points or wirePoints. As they now stand, neither site earns any Ambrogi points.

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