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Shared knowledge among groups of lawyers facing similar issues: the power of

Previously, I urged lawyers who practice in a company to network with other lawyers in similar roles (See my post of Dec. 19, 2005 about PELF.). In the future, in-house counsel will network as they contribute to wikis. The most famous wiki is Wikipedia, a web-based encyclopedia that rivals any commercial, hard-copy offering, but legal wikis are sure to sprout.

When a critical mass of in-house lawyers who handle bankruptcies, for instance, start a no-cost sharing of experiences, documents, guidance, Q&A, lobbying information, and evaluations of outside counsel, the collective expertise available in an easy-to-use wiki – much better than listservs or websites or blogs – will attract more users. A network effect will propel the legal wiki medium (For more on wikis, see Keith Ecker, “Wiki Revolution,” InsideCounsel, Feb. 2006 at 40.).

Quickly, law firms will realize that if they make useful, timely contributions, buyers will take note. In fact, law firms with a practice specialty will seed and support the wikis.

Eventually, legal wikis covering a practice area or industry will separate into free sites and membership sites. The bypassing of accepted disseminators of legal information will continue apace.