Beta Site Continues to Claim it is First Network for Lawyers

Back in October, I reported the beta launch of wireLawyer.com, which described itself as “the first dedicated digital network created by lawyers for lawyers” and as having “the first crowd-sourced peer-2-peer exchange for documents.” Neither claim was true and, at that point, there was not much to the site.

Now, wireLawyer has once again announced its launch in beta, putting out a press release proclaiming, “wireLawyer Launches First Online Professional Network for the Legal Community.” You have to wonder how a PR person can write a headline like that without at least Googling the claim. Have they really not heard of Legal OnRamp, Martindale Connected, or even the ABA’s ill-fated LegallyMinded? This is all the more surprising given that the site lists LexisNexis and Martindale.com as a “partner,” whatever that means.

One also has to wonder why they would announce a site that is so far from being ready for prime time. The press release describes the site this way:

Drawing on the expertise of the Harvard Law community and Silicon Valley, wireLawyer provides an essential business-to-business platform, allowing lawyers to insource and outsource paid work, access thousands of peer-reviewed documents, and research curated questions, which bring big firm best practices to the entire legal community.

But if you go to the site, most of these promised features are inoperable. Click on “Groups,” “Q&A” or “Transact,” and all you get is a notice proclaiming, “Coming Soon.” So far, wireLawyer is just another site for searching for canned legal forms. Although the press release promises documents that are peer reviewed, the ones I’ve seen all seem to be pulled straight out of EDGAR or somewhere similar.

The press release also lists an elite roster of advisors and backers for the site, including Harvard Law School professors Charles Nesson and Charles Ogletree; Tim Stanley, CEO of Justia.com and co-founder of Findlaw; Martin Roscheisen, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and co-founder of Findlaw and eGroups; Leon Charney, a New York attorney turned wealthy real-estate investor; and Paul Pangaro, Stanford University and New School professor and CTO of several notable startups.

Given the site’s hype and the pedigree, I’ll be interested to see how wireLawyer develops. I just hope that the next time it announces its launch with a big splash, there is something to see there.

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  • http://twitter.com/R_Amani R. Amani

    another “dedicated digital network created by lawyers for lawyers”: Mobilex, mobilexexchange.com (also still in beta)

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  • http://wirelawyer.com Matthew Tollin

    My simple response is: “we are.”
    *** “Have they really not heard of Legal OnRamp, Martindale Connected, or even the ** ABA’s ill-fated LegallyMinded?”

    No. Most people have not. As the ceo of wireLawyer, I have because I have researched about every other legal tech company. “Ill-fated” would imply that LegallyMinded failed. Which it did at 3pm CST, April 7, 2011. Legal OnRamp is not a professional social network but a curated Q&A of top firms and general counsels. It is out of silicon valley and for that reason I believe it will fail also- as it cannot think like a lawyer. Finally Martindale Connected is not garnering the traction that they desired. Which is perhaps why they are willing to partner with outside entities that may have better strengths and teams. To this day it remains less a functioning network and more a repository for legal information- heavy on text, light on connectivity.

    The operative term in our slogan is 1st network created BY lawyers. Although the ABA is an association of lawyers, it was their IT people that put their website together, and this kind of project will not be successful off of a nonprofit association’s IT department. Although Martindale/Lexis has put significant funds into Connected- at the end of the day they are a company that caters to lawyers, and makes a lot of money off of lawyers, but they are not lawyers. Without tooting our own horn, we simply have the best team in the space. And this keeps us and our investors encouraged.

    Additionally, we made a conscious decision to enter the market in beta and not have everything fully functioning. To build these products correctly takes a good deal of time and money. We’ve seen competitors throw something up half-finished and that leads to their own economic suicide. We have a very careful roll-out strategy where one product/feature leads into the next product/feature. Culminating in the first revenue-generating referral/split fee community. We started with the largest, most comprehensive and smartest contract database. They are not “canned legal forms.” In fact, we despise the legal template companies that rob innocent consumers everyday. Our system is real contracts by real lawyers for other lawyers- for FREE. Yes, some come from Edgar, but they come from numerous sources and the attorneys themselves. One of things that makes our system ‘smart’ is its search. Search is very difficult technology (although done well like google, this fact should be imperceptible). We simply have the best search engineers in legal tech.

    Our network is growing everyday. The rave reviews we’ve been receiving from customers and investors keeps us moving onward and upward! I guess I always remember the illustrious words of the venerable Judge Higginbotham to me, “Matt, always think like a lawyer, think outside the box, and never ever accept the word “impossible.'” And I never have.

    Matt Tollin, ceo- wireLawyer.com

  • Barry Bayer

    And of course, there was Counsel Connect. Was that 15 years ago?

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  • Neil J. Squillante

    Matthew Tollin writes:

    “The operative term in our slogan is 1st network created BY lawyers.”

    If Matthew is a lawyer, he should know better than to assume facts not in evidence. TechnoLawyer, which Evan mentions in his article, predates wireLawyer.com by more than a decade. And I don’t think TechnoLawyer was the first though it might be the only Web 1.0 social network (originally called online communities) that still exists, at least as a business. Network2d might have been the first. Maybe Bob knows.

    I’m not sure why it’s so important for Matthew to be first anyway. It’s more important to be the best. I also disagree with slow betas. You should build in secret and then launch a near perfect 1.0 version. Don’t take my word for it. That’s how Apple rolls. You can’t argue with their success. Slow betas just help your competition spy on you.

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    • edesq

      You are not the first. Get over it.

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  • http://profiles.tigweb.org/iamessmann Heriberto

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