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Lawyer Fees Cut as Company Counsel Network for Tips

September 9, 2009

Reprinted from Bloomberg

Sept. 9 (Bloomberg) — Steven Weinberger, general counsel of Wisdom Natural Brands, boasted on an online social network last month that he saves money by drafting his own trademark applications before sending to outside lawyers for review.

Paul Escobar, corporate counsel at Cumberland Gulf Group of Cos., wrote back saying he, too, sometimes drafts legal documents to establish content and tone before outside counsel get their hands on them.

Cash-strapped in-house attorneys are swapping such ideas and other information on Web sites like those owned by LinkedIn Corp., which connects professionals around the world. Corporate lawyers’ use of social networks — some invitation-only — grew about 50 percent in 2009, LexisNexis said after surveying 1,474 attorneys.

“Many lawyers believe that social networks are no more than the playthings of their teenage offspring,” Richard Susskind, the author of numerous books on legal technology, said in an interview. “I disagree. The business-oriented versions will fundamentally change the way law firms are chosen and the way lawyers work with their clients.”

Weinberger’s Gilbert, Arizona-based company makes sweeteners. Escobar’s, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, is a convenience-store chain in the Northeast U.S. The men met on Martindale-Hubbell Connected, operated by LexisNexis, the legal- research provider that is a unit of the London-based publisher Reed Elsevier Plc.

Martindale-Hubbell Connected has 15,000 members and is the biggest online network built for legal professionals, according to LexisNexis.  read more…

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