By 2013, 20% or more of the legal advice firms currently charge for will be free on the Web

Some people foresee increasing amounts of law-related information available for free online. Yet of a group of 84 in-house counsel at large companies, all of whom are technologically savvy enough to belong to Legal OnRamp and completed a recent survey, only one-third agreed. Doubting Thomases were 21 percent. But the largest group didn’t know (43 percent).

As anyone who reads this blog must appreciate, I am all for putting online my best thinking and ideas, for free. Lawyers in firms, too, will gravitate toward this view, because it lets prospective clients assess their knowledge, style, and breadth – and the best legal work will always go beyond whatever can be written. My prediction is that much more information than now, that could be charged for now, will relatively soon be free online. Webinars are already being driven to no cost so soon there will be guidelines, annotated forms, hypotheticals with analysis, briefs, memoranda of law and other work product. This future means significant revenue declines for law firms. If anything like 20 percent of their revenue might drop to zero within five years, the outlook is grim.

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