This is getting scary. First there was box.net, then scribd, docstoc, and now gazhoo — all are document sharing sites identical in concept and vision to this site that I wrote about here.
The question of the day is: Based on the number of competitors offering ways to store and share resources, are we seeing a real market take shape or a fad?
In answer, consider: More and more I see corporate legal departments, not law firms, as the true beach-heads for the introduction of technology. Sure I thought innovation in this space would come from the less structured and more entrepreneurial part of the legal market, but what do I know? Turns out that the small firms and sole practitioners who should be motivated by competition to innovate are instead too strapped and fearful to foster real change. So that leaves the job of introducing more efficient ways of doing things to … who? The vendors? Don’t make me laugh. All they want is to shove the new model of their product down our collective throats – forget about any real improvements. As for what’s coming up on the horizon (Web 2.0, Law 2.0, etc.) – forget it as long as the legal industry is in the stranglehold of West and Lexis. That leaves large firms and in-house counsel to make the bold moves. But realize that in-house lawyers have a solid motivation to keep pace with their mother companies and find better, faster, cheaper ways to do things. Big law firms, not so much. They still live for inefficiency.
Will things change? Maybe what the profession at large is waiting for is proof that web 2.0/law 2.0 has value, and maybe that will happen when clients and the legal climate overall reward us for innovation instead of punishing us for trying to innovate in the first place (it takes a few tries before you get it right). Love me for trying … don’t hate me for failing.